SHC finds no role of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in PSO appointments

Dawn

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has observed that there is no evidence to suggest that Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the then petroleum secretary had influenced the appointments in the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) made by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The SHC said that the investigating officer of National Accountability Bureau did not brother to question the then prime minister or treat him as a suspect in the reference.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha, which had confirmed the interim bail of Mr Abbasi, former petroleum secretary Arshad Mirza and two others in a reference of alleged illegal appointments in PSO on Sept 3, issued its detailed order on Friday.

The bench it its judgment further observed that Mr Abbasi was the minister for petroleum when the process of appointment of MD PSO was initiated, but before such appointment the board of management (BOM) was dissolved by the federal government acting through the then prime minister on account of a petrol crisis.

It stated that there was no suggestion that Mr Abbasi, Mr Mirza or any other had influenced the head-hunters in the favour of Sheikh Imranul Haq, adding that as per advertisement, the latter had the required qualifications and experience and seemed to be a prime candidate for the job of MD PSO.

While referring to allegations of alleged loss to national kitty due to such appointments and PSO’s entry into the LNG market, the bench observed that it was purely a business/policy decision of the PSO and did not seem to be part of the charge which appeared to be a case of illegal appointments on high salaries and the loss, if any, may not be on the account of corruption but other factors such as a weak international market, etc.

The judgement further said that when it confronted the special prosecutor of NAB and IO as to how many references had so far been filed against the leader of a major political party in both Sindh as well as the rest of the country, they had no answer. “Even otherwise, malafide is very hard to prove and as such it can also be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case and as such in this case we also make such an inference of malafide by the NAB against the petitioners who are on pre-arrest bail who are in one way or another associated with petitioner Abbasi”, it added.

The judgement further said that Imranul Haq had no role in placing advertisement for the job and he had simply applied for the position and was selected while as for the case of Yaqoob Sattar was concerned, he had been appointed in-charge MD shortly after the BOM was dissolved and his appointment was also made by the federal government and not by Mr Abbasi.

At the time of confirming the interim pre-arrest bail of petitioners, the bench had directed the interior ministry to put their names on the exit control list.

The petitioners are facing trial before an accountability court in Karachi.

NAB had filed a reference in March against Mr Abbasi and Mr Mirza for allegedly misusing their authority while appointing Imranul Haq as MD and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy MD (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

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