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Shehbaz Sharif remanded for 10 days

07 October, 2018

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was Saturday remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after being arrested in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme case.

A NAB court heard charges that Shehbaz Sharif illegally cancelled a contract with a construction company in 2014 and sought to award it to another company allegedly for a bribe, and ordered him remanded in custody for 10 days to be interrogated, his lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said.

As Judge Najmul Hasan arrived in the courtroom, a huge number of PML-N workers were present, owing to which he summoned Shehbaz, his lawyers and the NAB prosecutor in his chambers.

Shehbaz requested that the hearing not be held in the chambers, following which the judge resumed it in the open court. When the hearing began, the NAB prosecutor requested that Shehbaz be sent on a 14-day physical remand. “Shehbaz cancelled the contract awarded to M/s Latif & Sons for infrastructure development of Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme and awarded it to the CASA Developers,” the NAB prosecutor upheld. “He misused his powers and his actions caused a huge loss to the national exchequer,” he told the accountability court. “Shehbaz needs to be further investigated in the case and should be sent on a 14-day physical remand,” he pleaded.

However, Shehbaz rejected the allegations as ‘false and baseless’, and his counsels opposed the NAB prosecutor’s request for a physical remand.

In his statement before the accountability court, Shehbaz said the Ashiana case was politically motivated, adding that he had not committed corruption of even a single penny. “I worked day and night to serve the people,” he told the court, adding that he had saved billions by personally intervening, with Rs 75 billion saved in the Orange Line Train project alone.

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its judgment on the NAB’s plea for a 14-day physical remand of Shehbaz Sharif. The court then granted NAB a 10-day physical remand of the PML-N chief.

Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel Tarar said the PML-N chief was improperly arrested on a warrant that was kept secret. He went to the court for questioning in another corruption case involving a water purification scheme but instead was arrested on the housing project warrant. “They cannot arrest the leader of the opposition in this manner,” the lawyer said.

Shehbaz was brought to the accountability court in an armoured vehicle that was escorted by a fire brigade, an ambulance and police mobiles. PML-N president’s sons Hamza and Salman Shehbaz were the only ones allowed entry inside the court premises during the hearing. PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khurram Dastgir and Saira Afzal Tarrar were, however, not allowed to enter the premises.

Hundreds of PML-N activists gathered outside the court, chanting pro-Sharif slogans as police and Rangers guarded the venue. On Shehbaz’s arrival, the workers climbed up one of the armoured vehicles. A few PML-N workers managed to enter the accountability court premises despite being barred as they were sitting atop the armoured vehicle. A worker was also injured as he fell from atop the vehicle and was shifted to the hospital.

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