ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday granted bail to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal in separate corruption cases filed by NAB.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez conducted hearing of the bail pleas.

Abbasi was granted bail in the Liquified Natural Gas case while Iqbal was granted bail in the Narowal Sports City complex corruption case.

The IHC bench noted: “For reasons to be recorded later, this petition is allowed and the petitioner is admitted to bail, subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs 10,000,000 (rupees ten million) with one or more sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned trial court.”

During the hearing, Barrister Zafarullah, the counsel for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri and Azam Nazir Tarrar represented Ahsan Iqbal while NAB prosecutor Jehanzeb Bharwan also appeared before the court.

The NAB prosecutor opposed the bail saying that if the suspect is granted bail then it can disrupt the case record.

Justice Athar remarked that arresting a suspect to interrogate him shows incompetence on the part of the investigation officer and a suspect is innocent until the crime is proven against him.

The petition of Abbasi said that former finance minister Dr Miftah Ismail and ex-managing director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had already been granted bail in the same case.

The petition explained that Abbasi being minister for petroleum and natural resources was also member of the federal cabinet, the cabinet committee on energy and the economic coordination council during the relevant period. Creation of the LNG supply chain and import of LNG from Qatar was a basic ingredient and critical part of the resolution of the energy crisis, it added.

The petition claimed that Abbasi in his capacity as minister for petroleum had a policy role in the LNG terminal project under ECC instructions and all approvals in this regard had been given by the cabinet. It added that it was not Abbasi’s mandate to interfere in the working of the Board of Directors or in the management of companies within the domain of petroleum ministry.

The petition argued that was also not within the authority of a federal minister to take decisions without cabinet approval, or to coerce fellow colleagues into taking decisions that were not acceptable to them, or engage in a conspiracy with state enterprises and international funding/donor agencies to defraud the government of Pakistan.

According to the petition, Abbasi has been detained in the death cell of the Adiala jail for more than 190 days but it did not lower his morale and he requested the court to ensure live coverage of legal proceedings so that the people of Pakistan could see the alleged political engineering of the NAB and the present government.

Similarly, the bail plea filed by Azam Nazeer Tarar on behalf of Iqbal, maintained that the allegations are “false, frivolous and absurd” and the former planning minister has been arrested due to “political victimization being the secretary-general” of the ruling party’s main opposition.

The petition argued that the anti-graft watchdog has “no evidence” against Iqbal.

Iqbal is seeking post-arrest bail in the Narowal Sports City project case. The PML-N leader was arrested on December 23, 2019 for allegedly using funds from the federal government and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for the multi-billion rupee project in his hometown.

He maintained that the funds spent on the NSC were approved by the then federal cabinet, Parliament and the National Economic Council. He said the project’s plan was revised and expanded.