While issuing a detailed verdict about granting post-arrest bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismael in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) case, the Islamabad High Court has said that it found no incriminating material against the petitioner.
In December 2019, Advocates Haider Waheed, Umer Ijaz Gilani, Shahzeb Akhtar, Faiz Khalil represented Miftah Ismael before a two-member of the IHC bench – comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. After hearing the case, the bench issued a short order, granting bail to Ismail against surety bonds of Rs10 million in the matter.
The National Accountability Bureau had apprehended Ismail on August 07, 2019 who served as the finance minister for hardly over a month in 2018 in the LNG import scandal undergoing a series of investigations had been sent to Adiala Jail on judicial remand on September 26.
According to NAB documents, the existing chemical terminal of Engro Group was rented out by the government at a whopping cost of Rs27 million per day for 15 years — with a total amount of Rs15 billion. The rent was paid by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to Engro for handling LNG imported from Qatar on behalf of the government/PSO.
In its 6-page detailed judgement released on Saturday, the bench said allegations had been leveled against Miftah Ismael regarding commissioning of the LNG Terminal, appointment of the consultants and award of the Agreement.
The bench cited Miftah’s statement that he has nothing to do with selection or appointment of consultants. Miftah was appointed as non-executive director on the Board of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) and later it’s chairman. The bidding process that had ultimately led to execution of the agreement was completed through an entity controlled by the government of Pakistan.
The bench revealed Miftah saying that assistance was also provided by consultants appointed by the USAID pursuant to mutual assistance between two sovereign States. It added that consultant-1 was appointed by the USAID whereas consultant -II was appointed by the Consultant-I.
“The Bureau has not been able to explain how offences under the Ordinance of 1999 are attracted in relation to appointment of the consultants….There is no incriminating material brought on record so far to indicate involvement of the petitioner in acts which would, prima facie, attract the offences under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999”, the order stated.
Declaring the allegations of NAB in the matter as based on conjectures and presumption the bench said in its order, “There is also nothing on record to show that the petitioner had misused his authority. “Moreover, there must be sufficient incriminating material against an accused in order to order the arrest of the latter in exercise of powers vested under the Ordinance of 1999”, the bench said.