Agha Siraj Durrani handed in NAB custody till March 1


–Sindh PA speaker’s lawyer accuses NAB officials of misbehaving with Durrani’s family 


KARACHI: An accountability court on Thursday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) the physical remand of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani till March 1.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader was presented before the accountability court amid tight security as NAB sought his physical remand.

As the hearing went underway, the NAB prosecutor told the court, “Durrani is accused of owning assets beyond known sources of income. His 14-day physical remand should be granted.”

At this, Durrani’s counsel said, “Yesterday, the PPP leader’s house was raided and officials misbehaved and harassed his family members. My client is not being given medicines and is not allowed to meet his family.”

Questioning whether NAB “has a personal enmity” with his client, Durrani’s counsel said, “I will submit a written plea against the attitude of NAB officials,” the counsel further said.

“There is no need to grant his physical remand,” the counsel added. However, the court granted NAB the physical remand of the PPP leader till March 1.

Senior party leaders, including Sindh Assembly’s former deputy speaker and Minister for Women Development Shehla Raza, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah and former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, were also present at the court.

NAB officials arrested Durrani, who was under investigation in three cases pertaining to illegal appointments, accumulating assets beyond means, and embezzlement of funds, from a private hotel in Islamabad on Wednesday. The PPP leader was then presented before an accountability court and his three-day transit remand was secured.

The accountability bureau had sought seven-day transit remand of Durrani, but the accountability court granted three-day transit remand and directed NAB to produce him before the relevant court in Karachi within three days. The Sindh Assembly speaker was then transported to Karachi and shifted to a NAB office.

According to Durrani’s family, NAB officers carried out a raid at their residence in Karachi on Wednesday night and took with them several documents and files. In all, they took three boxes’ worth of items and papers after the seven-hour-long raid, the family said.

NAB had initiated three separate inquiries against Durrani last year for allegedly owning assets beyond means, illegally recruiting 352 individuals on various government positions and embezzlement of funds for the construction of the MPA Hostel and construction of the new Sindh Assembly building.

Talking to media outside the court, Durrani said NAB had sought some things which I had provided to it but instead of summoning him, the NAB arrested him.

‘’I have submitted a plea for meeting with family and provision of medicines,’’ Durrani said. He said: ‘’My family has been misbehaved by NAB.’’

Durrani also said that he had a hope of justice from the court and PPP believed in the courts. PPP always supported him.

Speaking to journalists earlier, PPP leader Waqar Mehdi said that Durrani had gone to attend a marriage ceremony in Islamabad, where he was detained without any information.

Former deputy speaker Shehla Raza said that Durrani’s family was being detained for hours. ‘’The families of killers are not treated like that, this is unacceptable incident,’’ she said, adding  PPP will challenge Durrani’s arrest at every platform.

She said: ‘’We can tolerate arrests but if such misbehaviour continues with families, then entire Sindh will respond against such practices.’’

Raza said that PPP will challenge Durrani’s arrest at every platform. Ghani also lashed out at the government and said that the ongoing accountability in the country was a shame and it was different for PPP and PTI. He declared that party members were not scared of arrests.

“We are being punished for being loyal to our country,” he said and added that NAB was “created only for the PPP”.

He asked why Durrani was being asked to resign when the prime minister, who is facing an inquiry in sources of his party funds, was not resigning.

He pointed out that Durrani was not an escapee, yet his hotel was surrounded by NAB authorities for seven hours.

Former minister Manzoor Wassan said: ‘’We always talked about accountability, but we have objection over a way Durrani was arrested.’’ He said: “We never played Sindh card and we are not afraid of any arrest.”