NAB arrested on Wednesday the speaker of the Sindh Assembly, Agha Siraj Durrani, in Islamabad.
He was arrested from a hotel in the Red Zone. Durrani is from the PPP.
NAB has accused him of illegal appointments, misuse of power, misappropriation of funds and owning assets beyond his known means of income.
The NAB Karachi team travelled to Islamabad to arrest him. He was initially taken to the NAB Rawalpindi office after which NAB obtained three-day transit remand to bring him back to Karachi for the investigation.
Before arresting MPAs or MNAs, the usual practice is that the speaker of the assembly (provincial or national) is informed first. In this case, as Durrani is himself the speaker, Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari will be informed. In the absence of Durrani, she will exercise the powers of the speaker. She will then also have the power to issue a production order for him.
Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, a sitting Sindh MPA from the PML-F, told SAMAA TV that when people see such a massive lift in someone’s lifestyle, they do question what has happened. We heard about the cases against him but nothing seemed to be done in Sindh, she said. We were looking towards NAB to solve who had taken the billions missing from Sindh’s coffers, she said.
We want to know who took the money and we want the money back, said Abbasi. She did say, however, if he has been arrested, NAB should have such strong evidence and strong prosecution that Sindh cannot be looted again. This case should be investigated till the end but it shouldn’t end in a case of not enough evidence, she said, calling that an embarrassment.
PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman said in light of his arrest, Durrani should resign. He cited the examples of PTI leaders who had been arrested by NAB and resigned from their official positions, such as Azam Swati and Aleem Khan.
NAB had also recently written letters to the Letter to his family — his wife, son, daughter, nephews and other relatives. NAB had been investigating him in these cases for around five years.
The cases against him include corruption in the construction of the new Sindh Assembly building, illegal appointments during his tenure as local government minister and corruption in the parliamentary lodges project.
It is still unclear what case he was arrested in.
After Sharjeel Inam Memon and Dr Asim Hussain, this is the first major leader to be arrested from the PPP in a while. In comparison, the PML-N has seen the recent arrests of many leaders, including both Sharif brothers and Khawaja Saad Rafique.
The CM’s adviser on law, Murtaza Wahab, criticised NAB’s arrest of Durrani before proving his crimes. We have faced these kinds of cases before and will do so again, he told the media.
However, he asked whether there are two laws in Pakistan. “Is there one law for the PPP leaders and another for the PTI and the parties aligned with it?” he said. A man is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, he said, adding that a citizen’s fundamental rights are being usurped by arresting him before his crime is proven.
Durrani is the speaker of an assembly that safeguards the rights of the people of Sindh but you aren’t safeguarding his rights, said Wahab. He will today have to fight for his own rights, he said.
“If you think it’s right to take someone into custody at the inquiry stage of an investigation, then I want to ask you whether Durrani is the only speaker against whom there’s a NAB inquiry,” said the adviser, giving the examples of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Shujaat.
Is the NAB law only going to be used agsint the PPP, he asked, questioning why the same law wasn’t being exercised against Prime Minister Imran Khan or Defence Minister Pervez Khattak or KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.