Former ministers skip Nandipur case hearing

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also did not attend the proceedings


Our Correspondent March 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Former federal ministers Khawaja Mohammad Asif and Syed Naveed Qamar on Thursday did not appear before an accountability court to record their statements in the Nandipur corruption reference.

In addition to former ministers, the main accused, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also did not attend the proceedings.

The reference is about inordinate delay in legally vetting the Nandipur power project which led to an increase in the project cost by several billions rupees.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has nominated former law minister and senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Dr Babar Awan, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and officials of the ministries of law and justice and water and power as accused in the case.

During Thursday’s proceedings, a prosecution witness submitted the record related to the reference with Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik and also recorded his statement.

The record comprised the decision of the Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC) of the cabinet 2007, a summary and other related documents.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General contended before the judge that the defense side had the right to cross-examine the witness but it was not authorised to baffle him.

The judge remarked that he would hold a meeting to devise a strategy for limiting the entrance of lawyers inside the courtroom.

The judge resumed hearing on a reference pertaining to delay in execution of Nandipur Power Project.

DPG Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi pleaded before the court that it was a sad incident during the last hearing in which the prosecution witness Muhammad Naeem was harassed by the defense side.

The judge remarked that unethical discussion and loud speaking were against the code of conduct of a courtroom.

The prosecution witness Muhammad Naeem submitted the relevant documents to the court and recorded his statement. After that, the case hearing was adjourned till March 25.

The Nandipur project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Dec 27, 2007, at a cost of $329 million.

Following the approval, a contract was signed on Jan 28, 2008 between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation, China, and two consortiums — Coface for 68.967m euros and Sinosure for $150.151m — were set up for financing the project.

The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to provide it, according to NAB. The water and power ministry also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.

According to NAB, the legal opinion was issued in November 2011 after Mr Awan was removed from the post of law minister. During the course of investigation, NAB says, it has established that the accused committed the offences of corruption and corrupt practice.

The Auditor General of Pakistan, in a recent report, has found irregularities involving Rs80 billion in the Nandipur project, which include over Rs17bn in losses incurred due to the delay caused by the law ministry in vetting the project.

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