Court indicts Shehbaz, 9 others in Ashiana housing scam


–PML-N president says NAB ‘framed’ him in baseless reference


LAHORE: An accountability court on Monday indicted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and nine others in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing scandal.

The accused appeared before Accountability Judge Syed Najamul Hassan who framed charges against Shehbaz and nine other suspects, including former principal secretary to prime minister, Fawad Hassan Fawad.

The opposition leader and the other suspects rejected the charges and decided to contest the allegations.

According to reports, Fawad, while serving as implementation secretary to the Punjab chief minister in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing project, had misused his authority.

NAB had also arrested Ahad Khan Cheema, former director general of the Lahore Development Authority, in the case. Other people arrested in the case include Bilal Qidwani, Imtiaz Haider, Shahid Shafiq, Sardar Saeed and Arif Butt.

As the hearing went underway, Shehbaz said that NAB “framed” him in a baseless reference.

“I never misused the authority; instead, safeguarded the national wealth,” he said.

“The nation will see that it is the fakest case in history. NAB is a liar,” the opposition leader said. The judge responded that the court proceedings would reveal if the case was fake or otherwise.

The PML-N chief said that he was ill and needed bed rest. NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua opposed a plea by Shehbaz’s counsel to delay the indictment for a week.

The Ashiana scam reference pertains to a Rs14 billion contract that was unlawfully awarded to CASA Developers by former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz and his aides. Shehbaz has recently been bailed out in the Ashiana and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases after remaining in NAB custody for over 100 days.