Pak court acquits PTI leader Babar Awan; rejects plea by PPP leader in graft case

Islamabad: An accountability court on Tuesday acquitted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Babar Awan but turned down acquittal appeal filed by former prime minister and senior Pakistan People's Party leader Raja Pervez Ashraf in a corruption case.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had named a total of seven accused, five of whom had earlier filed bail pleas, in the case pertaining to delay in execution of the Nandipur Power Plant Project which caused a loss of Rs 27 billion to the national exchequer, the Express Tribune reported.

All of the accused had pleaded "not guilty". Awan, 61, filed an appeal for acquittal from the case in April, one month after withdrawing a similar appeal from the same court. Awan, who served as Minister of Law and Justice under then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, joined Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2017, ending his two decade long association with the PPP.

Ashraf, 68, a high-ranking PPP leader, became prime minister in June 2012 after premier Gillani was disqualified over contempt of court charges. The Nandipur project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee on December 27, 2007, at a cost of USD 329 million.

Following the approval, a contract was signed on January 28, 2008 between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation, China, and two consortiums - Coface for 68.967 million euros and Sinosure for USD 150.151 million - were set up for financing the project.

The water and power ministry 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 provide it, according to NAB.

The ministry also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.

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