In major relief to Ahsan Iqbal, IHC dismisses NAB’s Narowal corruption reference

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal addressing a press conference outside the Islamabad High Court in Islamabad on September 21, 2022. — YouTube/PTV News
  • Ahsan Iqbal says that a case was registered against him on the instructions of Imran Khan.
  • The federal minister further said that ‘NAB has not accepted any evidence of corruption.
  • Despite what IHC says, NAB fails to provide evidence.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Narowal Sports City corruption reference against Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

In 2019, the anti-corruption watchdog arrested Iqbal and later the accountability court in 2020 Charged against him.

security guard Accused The Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives misused his powers and increased the scope of the project from Rs 34.75 million to around Rs 2994 million.

NAB alleged that the Sports City project was built in 1999 as per Iqbal’s instructions without any feasibility. It was initially approved at a cost of Rs 34.74 million by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), headed by Iqbal.

NAB claimed that Iqbal illegally directed the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and Nespak to increase the scope of the project, increasing the cost to Rs 97.52 million.

However, Iqbal had always denied all the allegations leveled against him by the watchdog and had also approached the Islamabad court to quash the reference against him.

‘Where is the corruption?’

During today’s hearing, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minullah asked the NAB prosecutor whether the accountability watchdog has any evidence of corruption against Iqbal.

“[Development] A project, which was being built for public benefit, was put on hold. Tell me who is responsible for stopping the public benefit plan?

The IHC chief justice reprimanded the NAB prosecutor for failing to provide evidence of corruption against Iqbal. Justice Manullah further said that despite the project being of importance to the people, NAB intervened.

“I have repeatedly asked you to point out the corruption in this project,” the IHC chief justice said.

In response, the NAB lawyer said that Narowal, Iqbal’s constituency, benefited from the project.

“So is it a crime if it benefits the citizens? Where is the crime? Where is the corruption?” Justice Minullah asked.

Justice Manullah said that according to NAB’s arguments, it seems that the accountability watchdog had ulterior motives while arresting the planning minister.

Apart from the NAB prosecutor, the IHC chief justice also criticized the investigation office for failing to provide evidence of corruption.

The Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court dismissed the reference against Iqbal after hearing all the arguments.

‘NAB did not admit any evidence of corruption’

Talking to reporters after the reference was released, the Planning Minister said that NAB has “admitted that it has no evidence of corruption”.

“This case was registered against him. [me] Only at the wish of Imran Khan,” Iqbal said, criticizing the former prime minister, under whose tenure several opposition leaders were jailed.

The Planning Minister said that for many years one person Imran has been repeatedly claiming that all politicians who oppose him are thieves.

“Imran Niazi raised slogans against us and made many accusations. Imran Khan has lost his mental balance. Imran Khan is only happy when he sees us in jail.”

Iqbal added that he was never “frightened” by Imran’s baseless cases and blamed the PTI chairman for the political and economic crisis the country was facing.

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