Court refuses extension of Shahbaz's custody to NAB in housing scam sends him to judicial custody

By M Zulqernain
     Lahore, Dec 6 (PTI) An accountability court in Pakistan on Thursday sent PML-N President and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif to jail on eight-day judicial remand in connection with his alleged role in a housing scheme scam.
     The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had taken Shahbaz, the younger brother of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, into custody on October 5 in the Rs 14 billion Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing project scam.
     He is accused of allegedly cancelling the contract of a successful bidder in the scheme and awarding the same to his favourite firm. He was also arrested by the NAB in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
     Amidst protests by Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) workers, Shahbaz was produced before the accountability court in Lahore for a hearing in the scam and the NAB requested extension to his remand for another 15 days.
     Seeking the extension his remand, NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua argued that the probe in another case was underway and the agency needs his custody for another 15 days for interrogation.
     He said NAB had received information that Shahbaz had "benami accounts" in which a sum of Rs 5 billion had been transferred.
     Shahbaz's counsel Amjad Pervez said his client's finances from 2011 to 2017 were clearly stated in the records of his tax return and no "dubious transaction" was detected.
     The accountability court judge Syed Najmul Hasan then refused to further extend Shahbaz's remand and sent him to Kot Lakhpat jail till December 13.
     Meanwhile, several PML-N workers suffered minor injuries and about a dozen were arrested when they clashed with police outside the court when Shahbaz was being produced before the judge.
     The PML-N workers gathered outside the court to protest against the NAB and the Imran Khan government.
     They clashed with police while trying to enter the court premises, following which police resorted to baton charge and arrested over a dozen PML-N workers, officials said.
     Reacting to baton charge, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Auranzeb termed the police action as "fascist" and said "the people of Pakistan today saw the true colour of the Imran Khan government."
     She said the party workers had come to see their leader but the police baton-charged them and dragged them to their vans.
     She said police arrested over a dozen PML-N workers. PTI MZ SMJ AKJ SMJ