Court re­jects NAB’S re­quest to grant fur­ther re­mand of Shahbaz

EX-CM sent to jail; PML-N sup­port­ers clash with po­lice in La­hore, dozens in­jured

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY TARIQ BUTT

IS­LAM­ABAD: An ac­count­abil­ity court in La­hore on Thurs­day re­jected the Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bureau (NAB) re­quest to grant fur­ther phys­i­cal re­mand of leader of op­po­si­tion in the na­tional assem­bly and pak­istan Mus­lim League-nawaz (PML-N) Pres­i­dent and for­mer chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and sent him to jail.

As Shahbaz was pro­duced be­fore the court, a com­mo­tion took place out­side the af­ter po­lice de­nied lawyers en­try on the pur­ported or­ders of Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice Iqrar Haider. Contin­gents of fe­male ofi­cers were also posted out­side the court­room as women tried to force their way in. The dis­tur­bance did not die down de­spite Shahbaz and his son Hamza’s ap­peals for calm dur­ing the hear­ing.

Sev­eral PML-N work­ers were ar­rested from out­side the court build­ing fol­low­ing clashes with se­cu­rity ofi­cials. Re­act­ing to the ar­rests, PML-N spokesper­son Mar­riyum Au­rangzeb claimed that the party’s “peace­ful work­ers had been ar­rested” and de­manded their im­me­di­ate re­lease.

She said that ba­ton charge on “our peace­ful protest is proof of the gov­ern­ment’s in­com­pe­tency.” But po­lice in­sisted they pre­vented demon­stra­tors from try­ing to storm the court.

Shahbaz, who was ar­rested by the NAB on Oct.15, has had his re­mand ex­tended mul­ti­ple times — the last of which took place on Nov.28.

On ex­pi­ra­tion of this re­mand, he was pro­duced be­fore the court, with the cor­rup­tion watch­dog seek­ing an­other ex­ten­sion of his phys­i­cal re­mand. Shahbaz will be pro­duced be­fore the court again on Dec.13.

Shahbaz’s lawyer Am­jad Pervez told the court that de­tails of his client’s inances from 2011 to 2017 were clearly stated in the records of his tax re­turn. He added that tax laws did not re­quire cit­i­zens to men­tion de­tails of gifts.

He said Sharif had with­drawn money from his per­sonal ac­count, which is not a crime un­der Pak­istan’s law. He ar­gued that there was no ev­i­dence of Shahbaz spend­ing more than his in­come.

“It would have been a crime if Shahbaz Sharif’s ex­penses had ex­ceeded his tax re­turns,” Pervez said, urg­ing the court to refuse NAB’S de­mand for ex­ten­sion of a phys­i­cal re­mand.

He said that Shahbaz was be­ing ac­cused of cor­rup­tion be­cause he is a politi­cian and a for­mer Pun­jab chief minister.

NAB prose­cu­tor Waris Ali Jan­jua ap­prised the court of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s progress and re­quested a fur­ther 15-day ex­ten­sion in phys­i­cal re­mand.

Agence France-presse

Sup­port­ers of Shahbaz Sharif scuf­fle with po­lice­men on his ar­rival at an ac­count­abil­ity court in La­hore on Thurs­day.

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