PML-N’s Miftah Ismail arrested by NAB after IHC rejects request for bail extension

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Shafaqna Pakistan: Former finance minister Miftah Ismail was on Wednesday arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after the Islamabad High Court rejected his request for an extension in his pre-arrest interim bail in the LNG import case.

Ismail, a PML-N leader, is wanted by NAB in connection with an “inquiry against the authorities, including minister for petroleum and natural resources, the secretary concerned and others regarding illegal award of LNG terminal-1 to Engro Energy Terminal Private Limited”.

The bail application submitted by former managing director of Pakistan State Oil Sheikh Imranul Haque was also rejected.

IHC Chief Justice Justice Athar Minallah, who was heading a two-judge bench that heard the former finance minister’s application, stated that the Supreme Court had set a standard for granting bail in NAB cases.

“Bail in NAB cases can only be given in cases of hardship,” the judge ruled, rejecting Ismail’s petition.

A NAB team took Ismail and Haque into custody soon after the verdict and they were taken away.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Minallah stated that previous judgements of the apex court existed on granting bail under the NAB law, and that Ismail’s lawyer would have to convince the court that he was seeking bail extension due to circumstances of “extreme hardship”.

In response, Haider Waheed, the lawyer representing Ismail, questioned why NAB wanted to arrest Ismail despite his cooperation in the investigation.

“NAB wants to arrest my client due to political reasons,” he said.

The lawyer stated that when the deal for the LNG supply was being finalised, Ismail was working as a non-executive director of the Sui Southern Gas Company. He said the initial negotiations to purchase LNG from Qatar had already been done by the time Ismail took charge of his office.

The country did not import LNG at exorbitant rates during Ismail’s tenure, Waheed argued.