ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday rejected a plea by former railways minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafique who had approached the court to seek protective bail against alleged harassment by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).Accompanied with his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique, who was also the joint petitioner, Saad appeared before a two-member division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Moshin Akhtar Kayani. As the hearing started, Justice Farooq asked the petitioners, “Where were you and where you have to go to?” In response, counsel for the petitioners Kamran Murtaza said, “We have been here in Islamabad and have to go to Lahore.” “Why you travelled for four hours to reach IHC for seeking bail despite the fact that the Lahore High Court is there?” Justice Farooq asked. In a lighter vein, he added that he knows that the judges there (LHC) are more generous than the IHC’s.In response, the counsel said that there were barriers erected on the road heading towered the LHC. Besides, he added, if my clients had approached the LHC, they would have been arrested. The counsel also contended that his client has to engage himself in the activities of the by-polls scheduled to be held on October 14. In response, Justice Farooq said the court is not responsible for the polls. “We are here not to facilitate such matters,” he added. The counsel requested the court to grant a 15-day protective bail to his clients. After initial arguments, the bench reserved the ruling. As the proceedings resumed after an interval of almost two hours, the court rejected the pleas.Soon after the court decision, both the petitioners left the court premises from the back gate, narrowly escaping the reporters who were anxiously waiting to speak to them. The NAB has been investigating Kh Saad Rafique in connection with an inquiry into a private housing scheme scandal. The PML-N leader has been summoned by the anti-graft body several times for questioning in the case.In the petition, Kh Saad stated that NAB issued summons to him on March 20 in the Paragon Housing Society scam and on March 28 he submitted his reply along with the relevant documents. “After a detailed investigation session, the NAB directed that more documents be submitted which I did on April 5,” he said, adding that he has never been a director or shareholder of the Paragon Housing Scheme. Citing the recent arrest of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, the former railways minister contented in the petition that the NAB chairman and officials subordinate to him were acting like an ‘agent’ of the present regime. “The bureau is abusing the process of law for political victimisation,” the petition said. Notwithstanding immense pressure by the then military dictator, the petition added, the inquiry into the matter was closed and the inconvenience caused regretted by the NAB after probing the matter for nearly three years.NAB chairman and Lahore director general were made respondents in the petition. Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.