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SC takes up LNG case against Abbasi today

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up today (Monday) a petition seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over his alleged corruption in the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract.
The petition filed by Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed under Article 184 (3) of the constitution will be heard by a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
Senior advocate Latif Khosa will appear for the petitioner, who has requested the court to order the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate investigation against Abbasi, who being federal minister for petroleum and natural resources allegedly committed billions of dollars corruption in awarding contract for the import of LNG in 2015.
The petition filed on February 3, 2018, asked the court to disqualify Prime Minister Abbasi under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution by declaring the LNG contracts illegal and unlawful.
It also asked the court to appoint an honest and impartial person as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to look after the affairs of the institution so that the incumbent prime minister and his predecessor Nawaz Sharif may not intervene in its affairs.
The petitioner has made secretaries of the ministries of petroleum and natural resources and law and justice, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd, Sui Southern Gas Company, OGRA, the Pakistan State Oil and Elengy Terminal Pakistan as respondents.
In 2013, the PML-N government launched the LNG project and then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in league with then petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi decided to handle the import and transmission of LNG at Port Qasim through their blue-eyed persons, the petition alleged.
For this purpose, a terminal on rental basis was illegally arranged and Nawaz Sharif’s business friend Hussain Dawood was selected since he owns a terminal in the chemical zone of Port Qasim, the petition contended.
It said Hussain Dawood also owns Engro Group which is a subsidiary of Dawood Group and Elengy Terminal Pakistan. As per the rental agreement, the Engro Group/Elengy Terminal was to be paid Rs 27.20 million per day irrespective of whether the terminal was used or not and astonishingly the payment of rent was to be made by Pakistan State Oil without any transparent competitive bidding, the petition further alleged.
The petition argued that the sitting prime minister and other respondents by allegedly concealing material facts and misrepresentation before the public at large had committed corrupt and illegal practices and, therefore, should be prosecuted strictly in accordance with the law since the supply of LNG to Qatar Gas had been signed on a long-term basis without adhering to the minimum standards of transparency and customary international terms and conditions.
The petitioner has prayed the court to order recovery of the plundered money procured by virtue of illegal contracts from the alleged ill-gotten assets of the respondents.
On October 26, 2017, Prime Minister Abbasi had justified the LNG contract with Qatar, claiming that Pakistan had settled for the cheapest price among all 15-year term contracts in the world.
He had described the agreement negotiated for about 14 months as a big achievement, adding that Pakistan was purchasing LNG at 13.3 per cent of Brent while Japan, the largest importer of LNG, was buying it at 14.5-15pc of Brent. He had stated that it was the first contract with a price renegotiation clause under which Pakistan can terminate the contract after 10 years if it so desires.

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