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Shehbaz Sharif remanded to NAB custody for 10 days

October 6, 2018
Shehbaz was arrested on Friday by NAB on charges of corruption in the Ashiana Housing scheme

After reserving its order a few minutes earlier, the accountability court in Lahore remanded Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and former Punjab chief minister, to NAB custody for 10 days.

Workers pulled Shehbaz out of the armored personnel carrier transporting him from the court. He was yanked around for a few moments before the police stuffed him back into the vehicle.

He was taken to the NAB office in Lahore from the court at 12:30pm. The NAB chairperson is allowed to make any building a subjail and the NAB office has sufficient facilities to host suspects on remand.

Two or three vehicles left the accountability court at 12pm, causing workers outside the court to start protesting. Policemen sat on top of the vehicles, warding off workers attempting to climb on top again.

PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb spoke to the media outside the court and said they didn’t give an inch of government land to anyon. Shehbaz thought that there was a chance of corruption so he stopped the project yet he has been arrested, she said.

He is being punished for helping Punjab progress, the PML-N leader lamented. Imran Khan knows he can’t compete with us in the political arena, that is why he is doing this, she said.

This will come back to haunt him, she warned.

He arrived at the accountability court in Lahore at 9:35am on Saturday. He left the NAB office and was on his way to the accountability court as of 9am. The hearing was scheduled to be held at 10am.

Judge Syed Najamul Hassan Bukhari summoned the lawyers to his chambers. Shehbaz Sharif was brought in via the rear entrance. The lawyers argued that the arguments should be made before an open court but the judge said that the arguments should be concluded in the chamber because there are too many people who are not related to the case in the court.

Shehbaz was not presented in the main courtroom number five earlier because of the rush. In the judge's chambers are Hamza Shahbaz, Shehbaz and both parties' lawyers.

At 11am the hearing was shifted back to the main courtroom as it has been cleared of people. The doors of courtroom number five have been closed.

The AC in the courtroom was turned off to discourage people from entering the room. Several PML-N leaders were allowed to enter the courtroom because they are also lawyers, such as Rana Sanaullah, Uzma Bukhari, Saba Sadiq, Mujtaba Shuja Rehman and Ahmed Khan.

A vehicle has been parked outside the judge's entrance to the court. It is expected that if the remand is granted, Shehbaz will be taken out from the rear entrance, through the parking area, and taken out of the court premises via the judge's entrance.

Shehbaz's lawyers, Amjad Pervez and Azam Nazeem Tarar, are arguing that the corruption never happened because the contract was never awarded. The contract was cancelled earlier because Shehbaz caught the corruption himself. Shehbaz has argued that he is being politically victimised.

They also argued that Shehbaz had presented himself before NAB multiple times and attended the court hearings, so there were no grounds to arrest him.

The NAB prosecutor,  is arguing that Shehbaz awarded the contract of the Ashiana Housing Scheme on Bedian Road to Ahad Cheema, who was head of the LDA at the time and a favourite of his. NAB says that the contract was awarded illegally to the LDA and that it was awarded on Shehbaz's orders. He abused his position, according to the prosecutor.

NAB is asking for Shehbaz's physical remand for 14 days. The judge has yet to make a decision.

Hamza Shahbaz and his younger brother Salman are already in the courtroom as are Shehbaz's team of lawyers.

The PML-N number of workers outside the court is rising. The crowd is getting more aggressive and tense.

Workers climbed on top of the armored personnel carrier transporting the PML-N president, stopping the vehicle from progressing. The police surrounded the vehicle, trying to get the workers to move aside. Workers and police clashed outside the court, as the police attempted to get them off the APC. Footage showed policemen beating off workers with sticks.

They are trying to get into the court premises.

His son Hamza Shahbaz has already arrived at the court where other PML-N leaders such as Marriyum Aurangzeb, Uzma Bukhari and Rana Sanaullah are also present. His lawyers have also arrived.

Scores of PML-N workers have converged outside the court to support the party president. The police have taken strict security measures and are stationed outside the court. Security within the court is the responsibility of the Rangers.

No one is being allowed to enter the court and its doors have been closed.

Also read: Imran Khan and NAB are partners in crime, says Marriyum Aurangzeb

Shehbaz will be brought in through the basement lift and the cars transporting him will be parked there. Most of the workers are outside the main gate.

Shehbaz was arrested on Friday by NAB on charges of Rs14 billion corruption in the Ashiana Housing Scheme. NAB says he awarded contracts to companies he favoured, causing a loss of Rs6 million to the national exchequer.

His arrest came after Fawad Hassan Fawad, Shehbaz's former implementation secretary, recorded his statement and told NAB that everything he did was because Shehbaz told him to.

Analysis

Speaking to SAMAA TV, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that the case was begun during the PML-N government's tenure. This hasn't been instigated by us, he said.

According to SAMAA TV Lahore Bureau Chief Ahmed Waleed, if Shehbaz is sent to jail, PML-N workers will likely come out onto the streets. He said when Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz arrived in Pakistan the reaction was different because Shehbaz's strategy wasn't that good.

Barrister Ali Zafar, who served as the caretaker information minister, explained that according to NAB law, there are two stages before a reference is filed – inquiry and investigation.

They can arrest anyone at any stage for interrogation or if they believe they have enough evidence to prove the crime.

However, he said that an arrest doesn’t mean that the crime has been proven. It just means that NAB believes it has sufficient evidence against a suspect.

Opposition leaders met on Saturday NA Speaker Asad Qaiser at his residence. Raja Zafarul Haq, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanveer and other leaders met the speaker and told him Shehbaz's arrest is bad for democracy.

They submitted a requisition request, asking for a debate in the Lower House over Shehbaz's arrest.
 
 
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