ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court dismissed on Monday Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed's disqualification petition against Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Rasheed, an ally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had petitioned the apex court over alleged corruption in the award of a contract for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) when Abbasi was the federal petroleum minister and sought a NAB inquiry against him as well as disqualification from Parliament.
As a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took up the petition, the court observed that the matter does not fall under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, related to protection of fundamental rights under which the apex court takes up cases. The bench ruled that the case can be taken to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is an independent institution. Justice Ijazul Ahsan added that NAB can summon the respondents if it deems fit.
Moreover, the bench inquired as to how, under the petition, the premier can be deemed not to be truthful and honest as per Article 62 of the Constitution.
Dismissing the petition, the chief justice remarked that they do not want to repeat the history of Reko Diq, Karkey and Pakistan Steel Mills cases. He added that the petitioner should know what those decisions cost Pakistan in the eyes of the world. Rasheed has been claiming since Abbasi's election as prime minister in August this year that the former petroleum minister is guilty of multi-billion rupee corruption.
Moreover, prior to today's hearing in the apex court, PTI chief Imran Khan tweeted that "hopefully today details about the LNG deal will be made public in the SC. The nation desperately awaits as the secrecy surrounding this multi billion dollar deal with Qatar has aroused all manner of suspicions".
The petition was filed through senior lawyer Barrister Sardar Latif Khosa and requested the apex court to order NAB to take action against Abbasi.
The petition states that Abbasi awarded the LNG import contract in 2015 without observing transparency in the bidding process.
It also requested the apex court to disqualify Abbasi as a member of the National Assembly under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
Rasheed also pleaded the court to task NAB to probe the LNG import contracts as they were commissioned in violation of rules.