–NAB team returns empty-handed after LHC CJ tells it to stay away from PML-N leader till Monday
–PML-N supporters besiege NAB officials amid heavy deployment of police and Rangers personnel
LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday made another attempt to arrest Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz, but it had to come back without making the arrest after the Lahore High Court barred it from arresting the lawmaker till April 8.
NAB — which had sent 16 personnel to arrest Hamza on Friday in a botched attempt — along with a heavy contingent of police and Rangers had arrived at the residence of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in Model Town to arrest his son Hamza in an illegal assets probe for the second day.
However, the five-hour standoff between the NAB team and PML-N supporters came to an end when the chief justice of the LHC asked the bureau to stay away from Hamza till Monday after the lawmaker pleaded the court through his counsel Amjad Pervaiz.
In his plea, Hamza termed NAB’s raid unconstitutional and illegal.
“The court must dismiss the arrest warrants of Hamza Shehbaz immediately,” the application stated.
Initially, the NAB team was barred from getting inside the house by the guards, so it approached an accountability court for permission to enter the house.
Dismissing NAB’s plea, the court said NAB already had all authority it needed to execute its arrest warrant in line with Chapter V of the Code of Criminal Procedures (CrPC).
HAMZA LASHES OUT AT NAB:
Addressing party workers after the departure of the NAB team, Hamza, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, claimed that he had faced 10-year accountability by the Pervez Musharraf-led government and these tactics won’t scare him.
“I served time in Adiyala jail when I was 18 years old. Do not try and scare me,” said Hamza.
Hamza termed the LHC’s decision of restraining NAB from arresting him as ‘victory of law’s supremacy’.
“What compelled NAB team to violate sanctity of my home? What made them breach boundary of my residence and confined me like a terrorist?” he questioned.
Strongly condemning the NAB raid, the PML-N leader said the high court had ordered NAB officials to inform him about any attempts to arrest him at least 10 days in advance. However, NAB has gone blind in connivance with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, he added.
Hamza said the whole world was watching NAB’s action and state’s oppression. He once again urged the party workers to be patient and remain peaceful to stand the test of time.
“You people are our asset and I respect you from the core of my heart,” he said.
He said the PML-N leaders faced cases against them and appeared before investigating agencies despite all reservations.
“Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan to face cases against him, leaving behind his ailing wife. But not a single penny worth of corruption could be proven against the former prime minister,” the opposition leader said.
He invited the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to hold talks with them, saying that opposition would play its role for the sake of people.
The opposition leader advised the prime minister to stop telling lies, saying that the masses did not have enough money for the treatment of their children. He said they would resolve public issues the way they eliminated load-shedding from the country.
“The people have sent us to assemblies. We took oath despite worst rigging, for the sake of continuity of democracy,” Hamza said.
NAB’S FIRST RAID:
Earlier on Friday, a raid by NAB to arrest Hamza Shehbaz from his house in Lahore’s Model Town area failed after the lawmaker’s guards resisted the search, forcing the NAB team to return empty-handed despite a “warrant”.
The accountability watchdog sent its team to 96-H in Model Town– residence of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his sons Hamza and Suleman Shahbaz – to arrest the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly after finding proof against him in two graft cases.
Hamza was present inside the house at the time of the raid.
At present, former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Salman are facing multiple NAB inquiries, including the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing scam and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases.
NAB sources revealed that Hamza Shahbaz had declared property worth 2 crore in 2003 while his assets grew 2000 percent during the PML-N government. The opposition leader had illegally laundered 85 billions abroad, the sources told.
The officials claimed that they have already detained Sharif family‘s facilitators while more arrests are also likely.