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NAB summons Gilani; even warrants can be issued

11 December, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) says former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will have to appear before its investigators in connection with the probe being carried out into the appointment of Adnan Khawaja, declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and it will accord no special privilege or concession to him.

"The NAB law is equally applicable to all and sundry," NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal told our sources when contacted.He confirmed that Gilani had been issued summons to appear in person before the NAB on Tuesday for investigation into Khawaja's appointment as the managing director of the Oil & Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) by him.

Zafar Iqbal said Gilani would be provided another opportunity if he did not appear this course if he persisted with his stand to ignore the summons, the spokesman said.He said an interim reference has been filed in an Accountability Court against former Establishment Secretary Ismail Qureshi and two others. If Gilani did not record his statement to strengthen the evidence, the NAB would file its report with the court and act as per its orders, he said.

However, noted lawyer Raja Aamer Abbas, who worked with the NAB as its legal brain for years, told this correspondent that the NAB would be well within the law to issue arrest warrants of Gilani if he did not show up before it.He said under the NAB law non-cooperation in an investigation or inquiry being carried by it was itself an offence while the main charge against him remains intact.

His understanding is that what was being conducted against Gilani was an investigation (not an inquiry), which was considered a serious matter.Aamer Abbas said once an investigation was launched even the NAB chairman was not legally empowered to finish it. Only the concerned accountability court can do away with it.

Gilani has openly declined to present himself before the NAB investigators for questioning. He has no plan to honour it on the ground that he enjoys constitutional immunity for the acts done by him as prime minister.

He made a big issue when he was summoned by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director Hussain Asghar to question him in the Haj corruption investigation that he re-started the unfinished probe following his return on the Supreme Court orders. Senior government leaders took pains to pacify the former prime minister and told him that they stood with him at this point of time. Gilani has not appeared before the FIA.

The Adnan Khawaja case relates to the implementation of the December 16, 2009 judgment of the apex court against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Khawaja was made OGDCL chief in September 2010 although he was disqualified for ten years from seeking or being elected, chosen, appointed or nominated as member of any public office, any statuary or local authority of government or taking any financial facilities in the form of loan from any government bank. He got relief under the NRO and was given the key post in the OGDCL.

The NAB has informed the court that it has sought a reply from Gilani over Khawaja's illegal appointment.

In 2010, Khawaja was arrested from the courtroom on the orders of the Supreme Court when it heard a suo moto notice on his appointment, which, however, was cancelled a day after it was made as the court intervened.

He was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs200,000 by the Rawalpindi Accountability Court. After promulgation of the NRO, Khawaja claimed benefit and ultimately vide judgment dated Dec 4, 2008 of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), was acquitted of the charge. As the NRO was declared ultra vires by the apex court, his acquittal was set aside. But still he was appointed as Chairman National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC).

Even after the judgment on the NRO, he continued to work in this position, although he was debarred from holding any public office for 10 years. Not only this, on September 07, 2010, he was made OGDCL chief.

End.

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