LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore on Tuesday summoned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif in Ashiana Housing reference in a personal capacity on Jan 7.
During the hearing on Tuesday, accountability court judge Amjad Nazir issued a written court order in this regard.
The court observed that Shehbaz’s continuous absence is affecting the proceedings. It merits a mention here that Shehbaz is currently in London alongside his ailing older brother former premier Nawaz Sharif who is undergoing medical treatment there.
The court gave the final chance to the National Assembly opposition leader to ensure his presence in the next hearing.
The controversial low-cost Ashiana housing projects were launched in 2010 by the previous PML-N government in Punjab. Shahbaz, in capacity as the chief minister, is accused of ordering the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder m/s Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the housing scheme, which led to the subsequent award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd., resulting in a loss of Rs193 million.
The former Punjab chief minister is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), which, then, awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, causing a further loss of Rs715m and the ultimate failure of the project.
NAB also accused Shahbaz of directing the PLDC to award the consultancy services contract for the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab (Pvt) Ltd, – a consultancy that was established in 2011 and registered with the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) in February 2013, three years after the project was launched – for Rs192m, while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs35m as quoted by the state-owned National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak).
Shehbaz was indicted in the Ashiana case by an accountability court in February this year. NAB has also framed charges against Fawad Hassan Fawad, the former principal secretary to the prime minister, Ahad Khan Cheema, former LDA director-general, in the case. Other people arrested in the case include Bilal Qidwani, Imtiaz Haider, Shahid Shafiq, Sardar Saeed and Arif Butt.