PAK opposition leader jailed prior to election week in corruption probe

Shahbaz Sharif

Shahbaz Sharif

A Pakistani court on Saturday said it would allow the country's anti-graft body to hold opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif for 10 days to interrogate him about alleged links to a multi-million dollar housing scam, his party said.

Accusing previous governments of looting wealth of the nation he said the PML-N and PPP were a "union of corruption" and when they faced accountability, they start terming it a threat to democracy.

The NAB, which arrested the PML-N president yesterday, had sought a 15-day remand to investigate his alleged involvement in the multi-billion rupees corruption case. The arrest comes a little over a week ahead of the by-polls scheduled for October 14.

On July 6, the accountability court had announced the verdict in the Avenfield reference, sentencing Mr Sharif to 10 years in prison for owning assets beyond known source income and to one year for not cooperating with NAB. The Sharif families maintains that these allegations are false and that they are being unfairly targeted.

Shahbaz Sharif is accused of violating the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority rules in the award of contracts in the Saaf Pani Company affairs.

Shehbaz Sharif is also the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, lower house of the parliament, and the PML-N lawmakers on Saturday called emergency meeting of the parliament to discuss the situation.

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Earlier, hundreds of angry PML-N supporters created a ruckus in the premises of the court in Lahore and stopped the armoured vehicle of the police in which Shehbaz Sharif was brought to the court.

In his statement before NAB in August, Fawad had claimed that he had awarded a contract to a "favourite firm" in the Ashiana Housing project on Shahbaz's order.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said neither government land nor funds were used in Ashiana Housing Scheme. She said party workers and leaders are united. This, in turn, would open the way for Shehbaz Sharif's party to return to power in the coveted province of Punjab.

"All members of the former government involved in corruption will soon be behind bars", Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said.

PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif condemned the arrest of his younger brother, saying it was "not just regrettable, but also ridiculous".

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