Ex-PM Ashraf, Babar Awan indicted others indicted in Nandipur reference

Court conveyed its decision to commence a trial, issued summons to witnesses for March 19; reference against seven politicians and government officials was filed in September last year; in the reference, NAB contended that project had been delayed for more than two years causing a loss of Rs27.3b to national exchequer; earlier a commission formed by SC to ascertain reasons for delay held the accused responsible

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

An accountability court on Monday indicted seven people, including former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and ex-law minister Babar Awan, in the Nandipur Power Project reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Judge Arshad Malik announced the decision at a hearing that was attended by both senior politicians. Along with five other accused, Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pleaded not guilty.

The court conveyed its decision to commence a trial and issued summons to witnesses for March 19.

The reference against seven politicians and government officials was filed in September last year. The accused are ex-PM Ashraf, Awan, former law secretaries Muhammad Masood Chishti and Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani, ex-research consultant for the law ministry Shamila Mahmood, ex-senior joint secretary of the law ministry Dr Riaz Mahmood, and ex-secretary of the water and power ministry Shahid Rafi.

In the reference, NAB contended that the project located in Gujranwala had been delayed for two years, one month and 15 days, causing a loss of Rs27.3billion to the national exchequer.

The anti-graft body maintained that the project was not completed on time because the accused failed to issue their legal opinions.

It said the Supreme Court had earlier decided constitutional petition No 67 of 2011 – which pertained to delays in the Nandipur project – and formed a commission under Justice (Retd) Rehmat Hussain Jafri to ascertain reasons for the persistent delay.

The report submitted on April 9, 2012 held the accused responsible and the SC then referred the matter to NAB.

The Nandipur Power Project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on December 27, 2007, at an estimated cost of $329 million.

A contract was then signed on January 28, 2008, between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC) from China.

Two consortiums – Coface for 68.967 million Euros and Sinosure for $150.151 million – were set up to finance the project.

The water and power ministry then sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry, but the accused repeatedly ignored the request.

The Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve this issue, and the matter remained pending.

According to NAB, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, the legal opinion was issued on November 2011. The inordinate and malafide delay caused a huge losses of over Rs27 billion to the national exchequer, said the anti-graft body.

The reference was then filed by NAB Rawalpindi’s Investigation Officer Asma Chaudhry.

Days later, Babar Awan – who had left the PPP to join the PTI – resigned as an adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“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.