NAB may file case against Gilani: Sources

Islamabad: Pakistan`s main anti-corruption watchdog is considering a proposal for filing a case of misuse of authority against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani under which he could face a prison term of 14 years if convicted.

The National Accountability Bureau is considering the filing of a case in connection with the appointment by Gilani of Adnan Khwaja as chairman of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company even though Khwaja had already been convicted by court, The News daily reported.

The serious reprimand of NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari by the Supreme Court for his inaction in certain high-profile illegal appointments may lead to the framing of a formal case against Gilani, the daily quoted a source in NAB as saying.

Gilani and Khwaja had been detained in jail together during the previous regime of President Pervez Musharraf. The NAB had been considering the case against Gilani after the apex court issued an order on January 10 that criticised the government for failing to reopen high-profile graft cases.

NAB Chairman Bokhari will make the "final decision whether to continue looking the other away or to move against the Prime Minister," The News reported. Bokhari told the daily that action will be taken in cases of alleged illegal appointments made on the orders of the premier under the law and rules.

Former Establishment Secretary Ismail Qureshi, who was recently arrested on graft charges and released on bail, has reportedly told NAB investigators that Gilani and his Principal Secretary Nargis Sethi were responsible for Khwaja`s appointment. The NAB source said Gilani had violated a section of the NAB law that carries a jail term of up to 14 years.

Gilani was jailed earlier on charges of misuse of authority while he was Speaker of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament during 1993-96. The Islamabad High Court subsequently set aside Gilani`s convictions and acquitted him of all charges.