The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, who was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday in the Ashiana Iqbal housing scheme case, will be produced before accountability court Judge Najmul Hasan.
Shehbaz will be represented by Azam Nazeer Tarar and Amjad Pervez.
The PML-N president’s sons, Hamza and Salman Shehbaz, have reached the court.
Contingents of police, including anti-riot force, have been deployed around the accountability court ahead of Shehbaz’s appearance and roads leading to it have also been blocked.
According to sources, the entry of unrelated persons and media coverage have been barred inside the accountability court.
Several PML-N workers have gathered outside the accountability court and have been chanting slogans in favour of the party president.
Shehbaz was arrested when he appeared before NAB to record his statement in the Punjab Saaf Pani Company case on October 5.
“The National Accountability Bureau Lahore has arrested former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiana housing scheme case. NAB will produce Shehbaz Sharif in an accountability court tomorrow [Saturday],” a press statement issued by the anti-graft body said.
According to sources, Shehbaz was arrested after Fawad Hasan Fawad, the then implementation secretary, told NAB that he carried out corrupt activities in projects in Punjab on orders from Shehbaz, who was the chief minister then. NAB had also received information from Fawad Hasan’s laptop, from which data was retrieved after his arrest.
In the investigation that followed, Fawad and Shehbaz appeared together, during which the latter said he would bring proof. Subsequently, NAB granted time to Shehbaz to gather proof, but he could not produce anything. Therefore, the anti-graft body summoned him today in the Saaf Pani Company case, which is one of the 56 companies being investigated.
However, Shehbaz was arrested for alleged corruption in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case, in which former Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique are also involved and have been summoned on October 16.
Sources said the arrest of Rafique and his brother have also been summoned in the case.
Speaking to the media outside the accountability court, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said Shehbaz’s arrest is the worst form of political victimisation.
“He was asked to appear before NAB and record his statement in the Saaf Pani Company case but was arrested in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case,” she added.
“Not even corruption of Rs1 could be proved against the PML-N president,” she added.
Stating that PTI is resorting to such tactics as they could not “defeat PML-N in the political arena”, Aurangzeb said, “We will not accept revenge in the name of accountability.”
The NAB accused Shehbaz of misusing his powers while being the chief minister of Punjab in an inquiry pertaining to Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC).
The inquiry conducted so far reveals sufficient evidence to prove the involvement of former chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif “in the commission of offences as defined under section 9(a) and Schedule of the National Accountability Bureau 1999.
The inquiry conducted states that Shehbaz Sharif as the chief minister of Punjab had unlawfully assumed powers of Board of Directors of Punjab Land and Development Company (PLDC), misused his authority and acted in connivance with Fawad Hassan Fawad who at the time was Secretary Implementation to CM Punjab and others. Contracts awarded to M/s Ch. A Latif and sons for the development and infrastructure of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Project were illegally cancelled.
As the chief minister, Shehbaz Sharif in a meeting on October 21, 2014 unlawfully directed PLDC to entrust the project of Ashiana Iqbal Punjab to LDA. This decision of Sharif was illegal and mala fide as PLDC was the company which was established for undertaking such housing projects. Shehbaz is accused of illegally transferring this project to LDA, which was headed by his close aide Ahad Khan Cheema.
Shehbaz is also accused of working in connivance with other accused in the case and directed LDA to undertake Ashiana Iqbal Project under Public Private Partnership mode. NAB states this was done in order to give “unlawful benefit to blue-eyed firm namely M/s Bismillah Engineering Service Company, which was a proxy firm to M/s Paragon City.”