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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday said that the rampant inflation in the country was due to the "thieves" sitting in the federal cabinet and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Talking to media after appearing before the Accountability Court in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) case, he said that the government has paid Rs 25 billion additionally over the purchase of two LNG ships this month. Rs 25 billion losses have been incurred to the national exchequer directly due to the NAB as no government officer is ready to make a decision due to the NAB.

He said that the NAB chairman needed to make a case regarding the Rs 25 billion. "If the NAB chairman is impartial then he should make a case," he said. Abbasi said that the case will be made over the chairman NAB as the NAB had recovered Rs 281 billion till 2017 since its inception and recovered Rs 539 billion during the last four years.

The NAB has also claimed that it has recovered Rs 821 billion since its inception, he said. But according to the Ministry of Finance, the actual amount the NAB has deposited in the federal consolidated fund is just Rs 6.5 billion.

During the tenure of the current chairman NAB only Rs 1.4 billion has been deposited in the federal consolidated fund, the Ministry of Finance has told a parliamentary body, he said.

The PML-N leader said that the present chairman NAB has spent Rs 24 billion during the last four years and recovered only Rs 1.4 billion during his tenure. Where is the remaining Rs 537.6 billion, he asked the chairman NAB?

Abbasi said that the Finance Ministry was unaware as to where the remaining amount went and was utilised. "The entire country is being supplied with gas through terminals installed by the PML-N government but the NAB prosecutor said that that those terminals caused damage to the national exchequer."

To a question that the PML-N is afraid of reports regarding political alliance of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab in the future, he said that the government is afraid as earlier it proscribed TLP and then lifted the ban on it.

When he was asked about absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan from the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, he said that "he was busy in reducing sugar". Earlier, he appeared before Accountability Court-II Judge Muhammad Azam Khan in the LNG case against him and others.

During the hearing, the gazette copy of the National Accountability (third amendment) Ordinance 2021 was presented before the court. The judge sought arguments regarding the ordinance. Barrister Qasim Abbasi gave reference of various legal points and the verdict of the Supreme Court (SC).

He said that this case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the NAB. Uman Mirza, prosecutor NAB said that the illegal award of contract has not been protected under the recently-promulgated ordinance. This case falls under the jurisdiction of the NAB and he prayed beforethe court to start proceedings. During the hearing, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi came to the rostrum.

After the permission of the judge, he said that he does not want to get benefit from the NAB ordinance. He said that he has been asking for the last many days about the case against him.

Today I came to know about the case against me, following the argument made by the prosecutor, he said. Abbasi pleaded with the court to make the NAB's arguments part of the record. At this, the judge said that the arguments will be made part of the court order. The court adjourned hearing of the LNG reference till November 16.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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