ISLAMABAD: As the accountability court resumed hearing of the Nandipur Power Project corruption reference on Thursday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan stressed that it was not the job of the Law Ministry to inform relevant quarters if a project was promising or not.
The former law minister also submitted arguments on his bail plea before Judge Arshad Malik.
Speaking during the hearing, Awan said the basic approval for the project had to be given by the Finance Ministry and insisted he would not blame anyone.
The PTI leader was previously a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) when the power project was being constructed. In 2017, however, he parted ways with the party and joined PTI.
Former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf and Awan along with former Law Ministry secretaries Muhammad Masood Chishti and Justice (r) Riaz Kiyani, former Law Ministry research consultant Shamila Mahmood, former Law Ministry senior joint secretary Dr Riaz Mahmood and former Ministry of Water and Power secretary Shahid Rafi are accused in the case.
The project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on December 27, 2007, at a cost of $329 million.
On January 28, 2008, the contract was signed between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC), China and two consortiums – COFACE for 68.967 million euros and SINOSURE for $150.151 million – were set up for financing the project.
The Water and Power Ministry had sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take concrete steps to resolve the issue, and the matter remained pending.
According to details shared by the National Accountability Bureau, after Awan was replaced as the law minister, a legal opinion was issued on November 2011 – after over two years. This inordinate and malafide delay caused a loss of Rs27 billion to the national exchequer.
During the course of the investigation, it was established that the accused committed the offence(s) of corruption and corrupt practice, as defined in u/s 9 (a) (vi) and (xii) read with Sr.5 of Schedule Offences of NAO, 1999.