Trouble comes in threes for Shehbaz Sharif


–NAB announces arrest of already detained NA Opp leader in Ramzan Sugar Mill case

–Accountability court extends physical remand of Shehbaz for another 14 days

–Shehbaz’s lawyer complains against ‘media trial’ being conducted by NAB Lahore DG


LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday announced that it was ‘arresting’ Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case, minutes after an accountability court handed the custody of the former chief minister of Punjab to the anti-graft watchdog for another 14 days in the Ashiana Housing Scheme case.

Shehbaz, who is already detained in the Aashiana case, was presented before the accountability court by NAB authorities on Saturday for an extension in his remand in Ashiana and sugar mills cases. However, the court dismissed the anti-graft bureau’s plea to sanction Shehbaz’s physical remand in the sugar mills case.


During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor told the court, “We are arresting Shehbaz Sharif in Ramzan Sugar Mills case.” To which, Shehbaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz replied that the new request [by NAB] was in violation of rules.

“The law states that an individual arrested in one case will be considered being arrested in other cases,” he said. The NAB prosecutor disagreed, saying the case was of a different nature and the bureau has proof against Shehbaz.

According to details, a bridge costing Rs500 million was built to facilitate the Sharif family-owned Ramzan Sugar Mills. It is alleged that Shehbaz, during his tenure as the chief minister of Punjab, issued illegal orders for the bridge’s construction.


Shehbaz’s counsel also brought up NAB Director General Saleem Shehzad’s multiple media talks against the opposition leaders, including Shehbaz Sharif. He said that the DG has become a party in the case against Shehbaz and has been giving interviews on different talk shows.

“NAB summoned my client for the first time in 2018 and he appeared before the accountability watchdog whenever summoned and cooperated in the probe . Till date, NAB has not presented a single piece of evidence against the PML-N president in the Ashiana case hence there is no need to extend the remand,” he said. However, the court rejected his argument and allowed NAB to keep Shehbaz in its custody.


Meanwhile, a large number of PML-N supporters gathered outside the court as the hearing went underway. Containers were placed on the roads leading to the judicial complex in a bid to bolster security, resulting in minor clashes between PML-N activists and the riot police.

Shehbaz Sharif being brought to the judicial complex by accountability officials on Saturday. Photo By Zubair Mehfooz

On October 15, NAB had interrogated Shehbaz regarding the CASA Developers and Paragon City scandals prior to his appearance in the court. The ex-chief minister of Punjab (CM) had then said he himself had ordered an investigation into the corruption allegations in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme by telephoning NAB.


Shehbaz 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 Shehbaz 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.

His arrest came after blue-eyed civil servants Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema were taken into NAB custody in the Ashiana scam. PSPC’s ex-CEO Waseem Ajmal and PSPC chairman Raja Qamarul Islam were also being interrogated in Saaf Pani case.

Sources in NAB had said that Fawad and Waseem Ajmal had provided “incriminating evidence” against the former chief minister besides information retrieved from Fawad’s laptop which led to the arrest. Fawad had told NAB he awarded a contract to a “favourite firm” in the Ashiana Housing project at Shehbaz’s behest.

Fawad admitted before the NAB investigators that being implementation secretary to then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif in 2013, he had pressurised PLDC CEO to cancel the contract of M/S Latif & Sons and award it to M/S Lahore Casa Developers at the behest of his boss (Shehbaz).

In November 2017, NAB had launched a thorough probe into the affairs of the 56 public-sector companies formed by the Shehbaz administration in Punjab for their alleged involvement in corruption.

PML-N leaders shout slogans in Shehbaz Sharif’s favour. Photo By Zubair Mehfooz