Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was taken into custody by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau on Thursday while en route to Punjab capital Lahore.
Abbasi, who is also the senior vice-president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), was arrested on corruption charges related to the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract to a ‘favored’ company. According to NAB, Abbasi as petroleum minister in 2013 had allegedly awarded a Rs. 220 billion contract for the import and distribution of LNG to Elengy Terminal, a subsidiary of Engro, in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and regulations. Abbasi has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
According to local media reports, Abbasi had been summoned by the anti-corruption watchdog today but had requested additional time to appear before it as he had prior commitments. He was taken into custody while he was traveling from Islamabad to Lahore to attend a press conference organized by PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif.
Abbasi had earlier appeared before NAB thrice in connection to this case. A statement issued by NAB claims the former P.M. “possesses vital information regarding the LNG scandal. The national exchequer suffered loss worth billions of rupees owing to illegal contracts.”