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Shehbaz Sharif remanded in NAB custody for 10 days

LAHORE: An accountability court here on Saturday granted 10-day physical remand of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif in the Rs14 billion Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project scam.

NAB presented the PML-N leader before the court in an armored vehicle amid tight security.

As Shehbaz reached the court, dozens of charged PML-N workers besieged his vehicle with some getting on it and chanting slogans in favour of their leader.

They tried to obstruct the police from presenting him before the court. The police personnel forced the workers to disembark from the vehicle and escorted the PML-N leader inside the court.

A scuffle between PML-N workers and police personnel was also witnessed outside the court.

Shehbaz’s sons – Hamza and Salman Shehbaz – were the only persons who were allowed entry into the court.

Marriyam Aurangzeb, Uzma Bukhari and other party leaders as well as a large number of supporters were present outside the court.

Special security measures were in place with heavy contingents of police personnel deployed inside and around the accountability court owing to protest by PML-N leaders and supporters.

Judge Najmul Hassan summoned Shehbaz, his lawyer and NAB prosecutor inside his chamber owing to the courtroom crammed full of people, including PML-N supporters.

While presenting his arguments, the NAB prosecutor requested the judge to remand the PML-N leader in their custody for interrogation for 15 days.

He said the former Punjab chief minister misused his powers, causing a huge loss to the national kitty.

The lawyer said Shehbaz had cancelled a contract awarded to M/s Ch A Latif & Sons for construction of Ashiana Iqbal Housing project and handed it to his favourite firm.

He sought the PML-N leader’s custody for further investigation into the scam.

On the other hand, Shehbaz termed all allegations against him baseless. His lawyer opposed the NAB request to hand him over to the Bureau on physical remand.

The accountability judge turned down the NAB plea for the grant of 15-day physical remand of Shehbaz and instead handed him over to the Bureau for ten days.

The Bureau a day earlier arrested the PML-N president, who is the Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, inside its Lahore office where he was summoned to record his statement in connection with the Punjab Saaf Pani Company case.

Shehbaz reached the NAB office at 2:50pm. A combined investigation team of the country’s top anti-graft watchdog quizzed him for an hour over his alleged role in awarding contract to his “favourite firm” in violation of laws in the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project.

The Bureau later issued a statement, declaring that former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif has been arrested in the scam.

Shahbaz’s blue-eyed officers, Lahore Development Authority former director general Ahad Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad, are already in NAB custody in the Ashiana Housing case.

The Case Background

Fawad Hasan Fawad, former principal secretary to ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in his statement before NAB in August claimed that he had awarded a contract to a “favourite firm” in the Rs14bn Ashiana Housing project on Shahbaz’s behest.

The Bureau had summoned Shahbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Housing scam in August .

According to NAB, “the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides awarded the Rs 14 billion contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by Railways Minister Saad Rafique”.

“Fawad, who was implementation secretary to the chief minister Punjab at the time, levelled charges of wrongdoings against Chaudhry Latif and Sons in order for the contract to be awarded to Casa Developers.”

Formerly the principal secretary of deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, Fawad was removed from the post on June 1 and was appointed Civil Services Academy director general.

The accused bureaucrat was also being probed by NAB for possession of assets beyond known sources of income.

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