Babar Awan resigns as PM's adviser on parliamentary affairs

Published: September 4, 2018
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PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI / EXPRESS

PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI / EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Zaheeruddin Babar Awan on Tuesday resigned from his post after a reference was filed against him and six other politicians by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Islamabad Accountability Court for causing delay in the completion of the Nandipur Power Project.

“I have resigned from the post of adviser to the PM on parliamentary affairs so I may prove the allegations levelled against me in the NAB reference are false,” Awan stated in his resignation letter.

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He said, being a legal practitioner, he did not find it adequate to keep the post while facing an inquiry.

“Rule of law begins with me as it has been the path of our highly respected Sahaba-e-Karam [companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)],” stated the resignation letter.

Moreover, he tweeted that he requested NAB several times to grant him the right to defend himself against false allegations.

“I was never been given that chance since day one. Proceedings were one-sided. I wasn’t called during inquiry or investigation. Now I shall use all legal options at my disposal,” Awan tweeted.

The NAB Rawalpindi has filed a reference against seven key politicians and officials regarding delays in the Nandipur project.

Those against whom the reference has been filed are former law minister Awan, former water and power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, ex-secretary Ministry of Law and Justice Muhammad Masood Chishti, ex-secretary Ministry of Law Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani, ex-research consultant Ministry of Law Shamila Mahmood, ex-senior joint secretary Ministry of Law Dr Riaz Mahmood and ex-secretary Ministry of Water and Power Shahid Rafi.

As per details issued by NAB, the Supreme Court decided the Constitutional Petition No 67/2011 regarding delay in the Nandipur project and formed a commission, comprising Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jafri, to determine the reason for the delay.

The commission conducted an inquiry by examining the record as well as witnesses and submitted its report on April 9, 2012. As per its report, the officials and officers of the Ministry of Law and Justice were held responsible for the delay. Thereafter, the apex court referred the matter to NAB in the light of the commission’s report.

As per details, the Nandipur Power Project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on December 27, 2007 at a cost of $329 million.

After approval, the contract was signed on January 28, 2008 between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC), China and two consortiums – COFACE for 68.967 million euros and SINOSURE for $150.151 million – were established for financing of the project.

The Ministry of Water and Power approached the Ministry of Law to issue the legal opinion as per schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused in connivance with each other and with malafide intentions repeatedly refused to do so on flimsy grounds.

Further, the Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take any concrete measures to resolve the issue, and the matter remained pending.

‘Ministry of Law at fault’ for Nandipur cost hike

However, according to the details shared by NAB, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, the same legal opinion was issued on November 2011 – after more than two years. This inordinate and malafide delay caused a huge loss of around Rs27 billion to the national exchequer.

During the course of investigation, it has been established that the accused in connivance with each other failed to exercise their authority and caused a loss of Rs27,292.94 million to the national exchequer. Hence they committed the offense(s) of corruption and corrupt practice, as defined in u/s 9 (a) (vi) and (xii) read with Sr.5 of Schedule Offences of NAO, 1999 as they failed to exercise their authority to protect the national interest.

Reference was filed by NAB Rawalpindi Investigation Officer Asma Chaudhry before the Islamabad Accountability Court judge.

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