Pak opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif remanded in NAB custody for 14 days

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Lahore: Pakistan’s Leader of the Opposition and PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif was Tuesday sent on a 14-day physical remand by an accountability court. Shahbaz Sharif was arrested Monday in assets beyond means and money laundering case. He was nabbed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) here and produced in court Tuesday.

Shahbaz is the younger brother of three-time former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He was taken into custody from the Lahore High Court’s premises Monday after the court rejected his bail application in the Rs 700 crores (USD 41.9 million) money laundering case.

The 69-year-old former chief minister of Punjab province was produced Tuesday before the accountability court Judge Jawad-ul-Hasan.

Shahbaz requested the court to allow him to present arguments in his defence instead of his lawyer. The court allowed him. He denied any wrongdoing and said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s nexus with NAB has made mockery of accountability in Pakistan. Shahbaz asserted that the government was targetting opposition leaders only.

“Money laundering charges against me are baseless. I do not do business. My parents had worked hard to establish business in the country and transferred the same to my children,” Shahbaz said.

The opposition leader said being the chief minister of Punjab province his decisions caused a loss of millions of rupees to the businesses of his elder brother Nawaz and his (Shahbaz) son Hamza in order to benefit the public.

Following the arguments, the judge accepted NAB’s request for a 14-day physical remand of Shahbaz. He ordered for him to be presented in the court again October 13. The court directed that Shahbaz’s performance report be made part of this case.

Shahbaz’s arrest comes just ahead of the planned protests next month by his party – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Khan.

The Imran Khan government last week filed the money laundering case against Shahbaz, who served as chief minister of Punjab province from 2008 to 2018, and his family.

The anti-graft body has claimed that the assets of Shahbaz’s family ballooned from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 700 crores in the last 30 years, which they have failed to justify.

Nawaz Sharif who has been in London since November 2019 after securing bail on medical grounds in Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was sentenced for seven years, strongly reacted to his brother’s arrest.

In a tweet, Nawaz said, “This puppet government has endorsed the resolution adopted by the opposition’s [multi-party conference].  Shahbaz Sharif had already said all of the [MPC’s] decisions would be implemented whether he is in prison or outside. No one should be mistaken that such disgraceful tactics will make us bow down. Shahbaz’s arrest is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The Imran Khan regime has broken all records of injustice but we will not be cowed into submission by such tactics.”

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