LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday was granted a 14-day extension in the remand of Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing scandal.
The PML-N president, who has been in NAB custody since Oct 5, was presented in the accountability court in Lahore amid tight security as NAB’s earlier physical remand expired.
Shahbaz brought his own files to the court of Accountability Judge Syed Najamul Hasan, rejecting any involvement in the case and began reading out his files in court. He was asked to wait by the court, which said it would first hear NAB’s stance.
According to the NAB lawyer, the PML-N leader had expressed ignorance in each of the questions they had asked him.
As NAB asked for a 15-day extension in Shahbaz’s remand, the PML-N leader’s lawyer opposed the request saying that the bureau had been unable to extract any information from Shahbaz in the past 10 days.
He asked the court to reject NAB’s demand for an extension.
Shahbaz also apprised the court of his case and said that no officers had investigated him for three days. His lawyer added that the former Punjab CM has been named in the case for political reasons and he had not issued any illegal orders.
The NAB prosecutor held that further investigation of Shahbaz was necessary. He said that the inquiry is ongoing and other aspects of the case need to be investigated.
The prosecutor added that others had also been summoned in the Ashiana case and they had been investigating Shahbaz within the limits of the law.
During the hearing, Shahbaz maintained that whenever NAB had called him, he was present. He added that he answered all questions that NAB had asked, including during the initial 10-day remand. “I am fully cooperating with NAB in the investigation,” he said, asking why they wanted an extension in the remand.
The opposition leader maintained that he had not misused his seat or done any corrupt practice. “I was called for Saaf Pani and arrested for Ashiana,” he told the court.
He stated that he had not given any illegal orders and was being accused of giving a contract to Kamran Kiyani’s company in 2013 in order to win the election.
“This is a false accusation, I have saved the country’s money and put it in the national exchequer,” Shahbaz said.
Earlier, prior to the arrival of the former Punjab chief minister, all routes leading to the court were cordoned off with security barriers. Individuals unrelated to the court were stopped from entering the premises, and lawyers went through a comprehensive search before being permitted to entire the court.
Shahbaz is accused of ordering the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the Ashiana Housing Scheme, and engineering the subsequent award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, resulting in a loss of Rs193 million to the exchequer.
He is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), resulting in the award of contract to the Lahore Casa developers, causing the loss of Rs715 million and the ultimate failure of the project.
NAB has also accused Shahbaz of directing the PLDC to award the consultancy services of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab (ECSP) for Rs192 million while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs35 million as quoted by Nespak.
The court granted NAB a 14-day extension in Shahbaz’s remand until October 30.