IHC dismissed Narowal Sports Complex case against federal minister Ahsan Iqbal

 NAB failed to provide evidence of corruption against federal minister Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal Sports Complex reference

The two member bench of Islamabad High Court headed by CJ Athar Minallah dismissed NAB reference against Federal Minister for Planning and Development and senior PML-N leader Ch Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal Sports Complex case. The court said that NAB failed to prove the corruption in this case.

The senior PML-N leader was arrested in December 2019 and released on bail in February 2020. The NAB court indicted him in this case in 2020.  However, the accountability court had rejected Ahsan Iqbal’s plea for acquittal in February earlier this year.

Today's decision of IHC to acquits Ahsan Iqbal is a vindication of the fact that NAB  wrongly arrested Ahsan Iqbal on false charges of corruption. It was clearly a political victimisation to please then PM Imran Khan who wants to see all the main and vocal leaders of PML-N behind the bars. NAB clearly played in the hands of the PTI government. 

During the proceedings today, a two- member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard Iqbal’s plea. Upon the IHC’s request, the NAB investigating officer informed the court that he had got the case in 2018 and that the arrest was made in 2019.

The CJ IHC remarked during the hearing that is not a classic case of political engineering? CJ Athar Minallah asked NAB's prosecutor whether the accountability watchdog had any evidence of corruption against Iqbal.

"[Development] on a project, which was being built for the people's benefit was stopped. Tell me, who is responsible for stopping a project that was for the benefit of the people?”

The IHC CJ chided the NAB prosecutor as he was unable to provide evidence of corruption against Iqbal. Justice Minallah added that despite the project being of importance to the public, NAB intervened.

"I have asked you repeatedly to point out the corruption in this project," the IHC CJ said. In response, NAB's lawyer said that Iqbal's constituents of Narowal benefited from the project.

"So, is it a crime if the citizens benefit from it? Where is the crime? Where is the corruption?" Justice Minallah questioned.

Justice Minallah said that in line with NAB's arguments, it seems that the accountability watchdog had ulterior motives while arresting the planning minister.

Apart from NAB's prosecutor, the IHC CJ also slammed the investigation office for falling short of providing evidence of corruption.

After hearing all the arguments, the IHC CJ dismissed the reference against Iqbal.

 The NAB alleged that the minister for planning, development, and special initiatives misused his authority to illegally enhance the scope of the project from Rs34.75 million to Rs2,994 million approximately.

NAB alleged the sports city project was conceived in line with the instruction of Iqbal without any feasibility in 1999. It was initially approved at a cost of Rs34.74 million by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), which Iqbal headed.

NAB claimed that Iqbal illegally directed the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and NESPAK to increase the project's scope, enhancing the cost to Rs97.52 million.

However, Iqbal had always denied all the allegations leveled against him by the watchdog and also moved Islamabad's court to have the reference against him dismissed.


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