Pakistan anti-graft body arrests Shehbaz Sharif in housing scam

Pakistan anti-graft body arrests Shehbaz Sharif in housing scam
Shehbaz Sharif. (Photo: Twitter/@CMShehbaz)

Lahore: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif was arrested by the country’s anti-corruption body on Friday in a Rs 14 billion housing scam case.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said that Sharif, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, was detained for his alleged misappropriations in Ashiana Housing Scheme in Lahore during his tenure as the Punjab province Chief Minister from 2013 to 2018, Geo News reported.

The bureau had launched a probe into the scandal after the housing scheme for poor people failed due to alleged corruption.

The NAB said that the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be presented before the accountability court on Saturday. The body is expected to seek Shehbaz Sharif’s remand.

He will be kept in a highly-secured lock-up inside the NAB Lahore office until his appearance in court, according to Dawn online.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court advocate Shahzad Akbar told the local media that the law allows the NAB to seek 90-day detention of Shehbaz Sharif for further investigation.

Earlier in the day, Shehbaz Sharif appeared before the NAB authorities to record his statement in the scam, but he was detained after he failed to satisfy the Combined Investigation Team of the bureau with his answers to the queries.

The accountability watchdog alleged that the leader was involved in corruption by providing contracts on high rates to unqualified companies of his friends, reports say.

Lahore Development Authority’s former Director General Ahad Cheema and senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad were already in NAB custody in connection with the scam.

Supporters of the PML-N started gathering outside the NAB office after the development. The arrest came a little over a week ahead of the by-polls scheduled for October 14.

PML-N leader Rana Sana Ullah termed the arrest as a “political victimization”, saying that they will use their legal rights to defend their leader as there is no solid proof against him.

The bureau is also investigating Shehbaz Sharif in the clean water project scam, Paragon Housing Society scandal and Punjab Power Company corruption cases.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Shehbaz Sharif’s is the first of several prominent arrests which will be made. He emphasised that the process of accountability will move forward and the government has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah condemned the arrest, calling it an insult to Parliament.