LAHORE, SEPT – PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday after the Lahore High Court rejected his bail plea in a money laundering case.
Shehbaz was taken into custody from the court’s premises, where a large number of PML-N workers and supporters had gathered ahead of the hearing.
Last week, the LHC had extended the pre-arrest bail of Shehbaz, while arguments of his counsel were in progress and had directed him to conclude his arguments in the next hearing.
During today’s proceedings, Shehbaz’s legal counsel Azam Nazir Tarar said that the PML-N president’s arrest at this stage of the case could not be justified and added: “NAB’s dishonesty is apparent everywhere.”
He said that Shehbaz was already facing two other references filed by NAB, arguing that the cases against the opposition leader were “fake”.
“Local bodies elections are coming up, the government wants Shehbaz Sharif to go to jail,” Tarar declared.
He further pointed out that though the copies of the reference had been provided, Shehbaz was yet to be indicted.
Tarar told the court that the former Punjab chief minister had done a net saving of Rs81 billion in the Orange Line Train Project and Rs400 million in the taxi project. Collectively, Tarar said, Shehbaz had saved Rs1 trillion in net savings.
In his arguments, Shehbaz’s lawyer said that the PML-N president had never received any ta-da or salary.
Reacting to Shehbaz’s arrest, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, said in a tweet: “If there were accountability and justice in this country, it would not have been Shehbaz Sharif who was arrested but Asim Bajwa and his family.”
PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb slammed the arrest, alleging it was political victimisation by the government.
“The entire nation has been handcuffed through Shehbaz’s arrest,” she said outside court, saying the arrest was a result of the “NAB-Niaz nexus”.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, while talking to a private news channel, said that the reference “should not be turned into a political case”. He added that the decision had been taken by a court and was a result of the opposition leader’s corruption.
Money laundering case
The reference mainly accuses Shehbaz of being beneficiary of assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars who had no sources to acquire such assets. It says the suspects committed offences of corruption and corrupt practices as envisaged under the provisions of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and money laundering as delineated in the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.
A total of 20 people had been nominated in the reference, including four approvers Yasir Mushtaq, Muhammad Mushtaq, Shahid Rafiq and Aftab Mahmood.
The main suspects are Shehbaz’s wife Nusrat, his sons Hamza (leader of opposition in Punjab) and Suleman (absconder), and his daughters Rabia Imran and Javeria Ali.