ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for protective bail in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference against him for making an illegal appointment.

The leader of Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) approached the court through his counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan, and requested the court to grant protective bail, so that he can appear before the forums in Karachi for appropriate relief, when the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown is lifted.

It was March 31, when the IHC had granted four-week protective bail to former prime minister Abbasi and former secretary petroleum Arshad Mirza in a reference pertaining to the illegal appointment of the managing director of Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

In his plea, Abbasi stated that the NAB Karachi had issued arrest warrants for him, while he was in Islamabad and he could not appear before the accountability court, Karachi, due to lockdown.

The Accountability Court, Karachi had issued non-bailable warrants for the PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan in a reference pertaining to illegal appointment of managing director of the PSO.

The anti-graft watchdog filed second reference against the PML-N leader in the illegal appointment of Imranul Haq as the PSO managing director in an accountability court Karachi.

In the reference, the NAB had alleged that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Arshad Mirza had misused their authority, while appointing Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

It added that the Supreme Court had, while hearing a case on July 14, 2018, ordered the anti-graft watchdog to probe the appointment of both the officers.

Later, an inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court.

It reportedly said evidence showed that the appointment of Sheikh Imranul Haq was illegal and not made in a transparent manner.

The report said there was evidence that Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an LNG agreement with his former employer (Engro Corporation).

The reference accused Haq of having misused his authority by promoting Sattar to the post of deputy managing director within a month of his joining.

In the reference, the NAB claimed that the suspects caused losses to the tune of Rs138.96 million to the national exchequer. Therefore, they allegedly committed offences punishable under sections 9(a), (4), (6) and (12) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, it added.—TERENCE J SIGAMONY