Shehbaz Sharif arrested by NAB in Ashiana Housing scandal

Dunya News

Ex-Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif has been arrested in Ashiana Housing scam.

LAHORE (Web Desk) - The National Accountability Bureau has arrested Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president and former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiana Housing Scheme scandal on Friday.

Shehbaz was arrested after appearing for a routine hearing of Saaf Pani Company scam at the NAB’s Lahore office. Sources told that three files were tabled before him.

The former chief minister is accused of awarding illegal contracts to his favorite firm.

The news regarding Shehbaz Sharif’s arrested was confirmed by DG NAB and Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chauhan. PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb also confirmed the party president’s arrest.

He is likely to be presented before the accountability court on Saturday. 

The PML-N president failed to satisfy the probing team of the bureau during the investigation and was ultimately arrested. He is likely to be presented before the accountability court on Saturday.

The Bureau quizzed Sharif regarding a tender awarded to a private consultancy company for a survey of the Saaf Pani company.

The anti-graft watchdog has claimed that the company did not conduct any kind of survey but nevertheless provided a lucrative sum of Rs 1.5 billion.

Sources said that ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s prinicipal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad has become approver.

Fawad Hasan Fawad , in his statement before NAB had claimed that he had awarded a contract to a “favourite firm” in the Rs14 billion Ashiana Housing project at teh behest of Shahbaz Sharif. 

The anti-graft agency said that the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but Sharif awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by Railways Minister Saad Rafique”.

Opposition leader cannot be arrested without NA Speaker’s permission

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Parliamentary party on Friday while strongly reacting to the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif in Ashiana Housing Scheme scam by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), said that the Leader of Opposition cannot be arrested without the permission of National Assembly Speaker.

In a statement issued by the Parliamentary Party of the PML-N on Friday, targeting those who served the masses on the basis of being political opponent has already damaged the country and nation.

The one who was applauded by the world including China and Turkey has been arrested by the NAB, the statement said.

The statement further said that the ex-Punjab CM had dedicated his life to the prosperity of the nation.

“The unfortunate history of using NAB against political opponents was being repeated,” the statement said and added his arrest ahead of the by-elections shows that the government is scared of the PML-N.

‘It’s just a start’

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Friday hinted that the PML-N president’s arrest is the first in a series of detentions.

Reacting to the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif, he said that this is the first arrest, adding that more arrests are about to be made.

The minister said that the process of accountability will continue and the government has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption.

On the other hand, Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Shehbaz Sharif as it had evidences against the former chief minister.

“We have minutes in which Shehbaz Sharif says that no appointments, transfers and contracts will be made without his approval,” said the provincial minister.

“It’s just a start, investigations will be carried out. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar we will hold you accountable for every single penny,” he added.

Chohan said that anyone could become approver in the case, adding that Qamarul Islam was also involved in corruption. “Another person named Junaid, who is the frontman of Shehbaz Sharif, we will arrest him too.”

‘Revenge tactic’

PML- N leader Rana Sanullah on Friday termed former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest “a revenge tactic”.

The former Punjab law minister said there was no proof that the owners of Ashiana Housing lured general public to invest their money in the scheme on the promise to allot them plots on their investment.

“Not even a single penny from the national exchequer was used to pay for the Ashiana Housing Scheme. It’s just a revenge tactic against Shehbaz Sharif and Fawad Hasan Fawad.

“All this is being carried out to influnce by-elections… similar to the revenge tactics that were carried out ahead of the July 25 general election as everyone knows that PML-N is going to clean sweep the by-polls,” he added.

‘Pre-poll rigging’

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah on Friday said authorities should have had approached National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser before arresting Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

“This is the first time since 1985 that an opposition leader has been arrested. And the arrest ahead of by-elections is a hint towards pre-poll rigging,” he added.

The former opposition leader said his party would come up with a strategy after consultations, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was engaged in revenge tactics.

Earlier on July 5, ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad was arrested by NAB over several corruption charges including contract of Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme and three other projects.

Fawad, while serving as secretary to the project director of Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), had played a role in the cancellation of bid a company to favour another company.

The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) former chief Ahad Khan Cheema is already behind bars in connection with the housing project scandal.

Mentioning the grounds for his arrest, NAB maintained that the Punjab Land Development Company through an agreement dated January 20, 2015 assigned the project of Ashiana Iqbal (a low cost housing project of GoP) to LDA. Accused, Ahad Khan Cheema, being Director General LDA, by miuse of authority and with criminal intent in connvance with the other accused persons processed and awarded contracts of Ashiana Iqbal Project of Rs14 billion to Lahore Casa Developers, a joint venture which was ineligible for the contract.

The contract was awarded in violation of PPP Act, 2014.

In June, the NAB had detained Qamarul Islam Raja, a PML-N leader from Rawalpindi, on charges of providing fraudulent documents and awarding tenders of 84 water filtration plant at astronomical prices. The PMLN leader benefitted massively while the national treasury of Pakistan took a huge hit.

The NAB acted swiftly and detained Waseem Ajmal Chaudhry, a former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Saaf Pani Company and the secretary P&D.

It was reported that Chaudhry had approved a payment of Rs24.7 million to the management of Ali and Fatima Developers Private Limited as office rents for the Saaf Pani Company.