NAB to challenge Ahsan Iqbal, Shahid Khaqan's bail in SC

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday decided to challenge post-arrest bail granted to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former minister Ahsan Iqbal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).

Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi were granted bail by Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the Narowal Sports Complex and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cases respectively.

A two-member bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing on bail petitions filed by the PML-N leaders and directed Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to submit surety bonds worth Rs 10 million each.

Justice Athar Minallah, while addressing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, remarked that the anti-corruption watchdog arrests some suspects during inquiry and does not take action against some even after reference is filed.

“A suspect is considered as innocent until allegations are proven against him. NAB’s authority to arrest a suspect does not take away his/her constitutional rights. Why have the petitioners been arrested if they are cooperating with the NAB? The anti-graft body should satisfy the court over the detainments.”

Ahsan Iqbal’s lawyer argued that the NAB is apparently abducting people for ransom as it takes Rs 100 million through plea bargain and then leaves the detainees.

Justice Athar Minallah replied the rule of plea bargain exists worldwide, corruption is present in Pakistan, the NAB is only an investigation department and not a court.

The NAB prosecutor explained four allegations leveled against Ahsan Iqbal before the court. Justice Athar Minallah said, “No criminal intentions or financial gains have been mentioned in the accusations. The NAB should prove the charges during trial to ensure 16 years of imprisonment for the accused, but the whole governance system will be halted if corruption cases are lodges for making mistakes.”

The court inquired from the NAB, “Why were Ahsan Iqbal and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrested? Why should Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi be kept in prison if the investigation is completed? How can Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi be deprived of representation when people voted for them? Why are those people being punished who voted for Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi?”

Justice Athar Minallah said the PML-N leaders cannot be kept under custody without any reason and barring them unnecessarily is misuse of power. The IHC then ordered to release Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.