Ashiana-i-Iqbal case : Shahbaz Sharif appears before court in Lahore
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Ashiana-i-Iqbal case : Shahbaz Sharif appears before court in Lahore

Islamabad, Oct 6 : The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif, who was taken into the custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal case was produced before an accountability court in Lahore on Saturday.

The PML-N leader was arrested by the anti-graft body in the Rs 14 billion Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing project scam on Friday, when he was called in for interrogation, Pakistan daily, Dawn reported. Prior to today's hearing, NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told DawnNewsTV that the accountability watchdog will request for a 14-day physical remand of the PML-N leader.

Sharif, who was kept in a highly-secured lock-up inside the NAB Lahore office, arrived in court in an armoured vehicle, under heavy security.Contingents of police, that were posted inside and outside the accountability court, refused to let PML-N leaders and workers inside the building.

However, PML-N president's son, Hamza Shahbaz, along with party leaders Malik Ahmed Ehsan and Malik Ahmed Khan, were allowed inside the courtroom.Party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and Pervez Malik chanted slogans with PML-N workers that had gathered outside the court building early in the morning. On Shahbaz's arrival, the emotionally charged workers climbed up on the armoured vehicle, chanting slogans in Shahbaz's favour and were forced to get off by the police.

PML-N cries foul, terms Shahbaz's arrest as 'revenge'

Former premier Nawaz termed Shahbaz's arrest as "not just regrettable, but also ridiculous" and accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government of being responsible for 'this worse kind of revenge'.

According to a NAB notice sent to the former Punjab chief minister on January 16, 2018, Shahbaz is accused of ordering the cancellation of award of contract of Ashiana-i-Iqbal to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons, leading to award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, which resulted in the loss of approximately Rs 193 million.

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 Rs 715 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 Rs 192 million, while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs 35 million. (UNI)