In a fast moving development in Pakistan, an accountability court in Lahore has granted 10-day physical remand of PML-N President and former Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ashiana Housing Scheme case on Saturday
According to Dawn report, Shahbaz — who was taken into custody by the NAB yesterday, was produced before the accountability court while the watchdog sought his custody.
Shahbaz, who was the most important PML-N leader, and family member of imprisoned Nawaz Sharif, former PM, his daughter and son-in-law, said “I did not do anything illegal. I have always worked for the prosperity of this country. We recovered millions from those who looted [the country] and deposited [the recoveries] in the national treasury.”
Shahbaz is accused of ordering the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the Ashiana Housing Scheme, and engineering the subsequent award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, resulting in a loss of Rs193 million to the exchequer.
However, Shahbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez has justified the cancellation of the contract saying, “Chaudhry Latif is an absconder in an anti-corruption case,” Pervez said. “In one case, Chaudhry Latif’s company is blacklisted.”
Following the hearing, Shahbaz was sent back to the NAB office — where he had spent the previous night — in an armoured vehicle amid tight security.
Before the hearing, NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua had told Dawn News TV that the accountability watchdog would request 15-day physical remand of the PML-N leader.
Sharif had arrived at the court in an armoured vehicle, under heavy security. The squad that escorted Shahbaz to the accountability court also included a fire engine, a rescue van and scores of security officers.
Hamza Shahbaz, the son of the detained leader, while talking to the journalist outside the court, has accused the government of “using” NAB “to take political revenge”.
“They [government] had thought that PML-N would break. They thought that the brothers [Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif] will be separated,” she said. “They thought, and they tried, that a forward block be formed in the party.”
Yesterday, former PM Nawaz Sharif had termed Shahbaz’s arrest as “not just regrettable, but also ridiculous” and accused the Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government of being responsible for “this worse kind of revenge”.