Pakistan’s accountability bureau has arrested the leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif for involvement in a housing scheme scam.
He will appear before an accountability court on Saturday. Shehbaz has been shifted to NAB lock up after the doctor deemed him to be ‘fit’.
The former Punjab chief minister was at the National Accountability Bureau office in Lahore, appearing in the Saaf Pani (Clean water) case. His white land cruiser returned from the office without Shehbaz in it.
PTI’s ‘worst revenge’
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has termed the arrest of his brother Shehbaz Sharif as the ‘worst revenge’ by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Everybody knows that the PTI was responsible for this revenge, he said. “His arrest is a joke.”
‘Arrest an attempt to manipulate by-elections’
Shehbaz Sharif’s is an attempt to manipulate the result of upcoming by-elections, says Hamza Shehbaz while addressing a press conference.
Hamza Shehbaz said that he is proud to be the son of Shehbaz Sharif and the nephew of Nawaz Sharif. “The arrest has made us stronger. It cannot break our spirits,” he remarked.
“The PTI has submitted a resolution in the assembly to hail the actions of NAB,” he remarked.
He accused the PTI government of giving the contract of Peshawar BRT to a Chaudhry Latif, who is absconding in a corruption case.
‘This is just the first arrest’
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry remarked that everyone will be held accountable for their actions.
“This is just the first arrest,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. “More people will be held accountable for their actions.”
Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chouhan said that it was NAB’s right to arrest Shehbaz. “Why do they see democracy in danger when they come under scrutiny? The former chief minister is getting the reward of his deeds,” he said.
New wave of revenge?
PML-N leader Uzma Bukhari termed the arrest as “new wave of revenge”. She said that the government is using the anti-graft body for revenge.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the government is victimising PML-N. “It is using the NAB for its political designs,” she told the reporters. She condemned the arrest and labelled it to be ‘illegal’.
“Arrest in an ongoing case is illegal. He was called in Saaf Pani (clean water) case but detained in Ashiana housing case,” she said. “This is ridiculous, deplorable and illegal. Not a single penny corruption was proven.”
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah said that the government should stop ‘vengeful investigation’. “Arresting a public figure in such a manner is insulting the law,” he remarked.
What is the Ashiana housing scam?
Shehbaz had launched the Rs14 billion housing project in 2010, with the hopes of building 50,000 houses.
He allegedly cancelled the contract of a company that won the bidding for the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing scheme and awarded it to another company, Lahore Casa Developers. This caused a loss of Rs6 million to the national exchequer. Lahore Casa Developers is a proxy of Paragon City, which is said to be owned by Khawaja Saad Rafique.
In March, Rafique had distanced himself from Paragon.
Former Lahore Development Authority director general Ahad Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad, are
in NAB custody in the case.
Fawad, former principal secretary to ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, in his statement before the NAB in August had said that he had awarded a contract to a “favourite firm” in the housing project on Shahbaz’s behest.
On August 17, the records of the Ashiana and Paragon Housing Scheme were burnt in a fire in Lahore.
This is a developing story and it will be updated accordingly.