Court reprimands NAB over delay in filing of reference against Ahsan Iqbal

An accountability court reprimanded National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials on Monday and asked its Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal the reason for the delay in registering a reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ahsan Iqbal in the Narowal sports city case.

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During today’s hearing, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told the court that it has been two years since the investigation was started against him, adding that he was also arrested in the process, but the probe was yet to finish.

“First this case was with FIA and later transferred to NAB,” the prosecutor told the court in response to Iqbal’s statement.

However, the court interjected and informed the NAB prosecutor that the case which was transferred from the FIA did not include Iqbal’s name in it.

“NAB should inform if the case against Ahsan Iqbal will be filed or should it be disposed of,” the accountability court judge asked the watchdog.

Iqbal also appealed to the court to that the NAB chairman should be asked to appear before it in person. But the NAB prosecutor interjected and said that the NAB chairman has appointed them as their representative.

“The court should give NAB one last chance to register a case,” Iqbal told the court before the end of the hearing.

“NAB chairman should tell why a reference has not been filed,” asked the accountability court after hearing the arguments and directed the anti-corruption watchdog chief to submit his reply by June 26.

The charge-sheet against Ahsan Iqbal

PML-N senior leader, Ahsan Iqbal, has been facing a NAB investigation since July 2018 in connection to a probe into a sports complex built in his hometown, Narowal.

Construction of the complex, which includes a cricket stadium, gymnasium, squash and hockey ground, began in 2009 when Iqbal was in the opposition.

But work picked up pace when the PML-N came to power in the 2013 election. That year, Iqbal was appointed the minister for planning and development.

NAB has accused the former planning minister of illegally increasing the cost of the Narowal Sports City complex from Rs35.410 million to Rs97.520 million, without approval from the Planning Commission’s Central Development Working Party (CDWP).

NAB alleges that Iqbal was the minister of planning and development and the deputy chairman of the CDWP at the time. Rather than taking the project to the CDWP, he instead approved it on his own.

It also contends that Iqbal initiated the project without a feasibility study, which was in violation of the development manual of the Planning Commission.

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