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Tensions rise as PML-N workers rally for Shehbaz Sharif outside the accountability court

Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and former Punjab chief minister, has arrived at the accountability court in Lahore at 9:35am.

He left the NAB office and was on his way to the accountability court as of 9am. The hearing was scheduled to be held at 10am.

He is being presented before judge Syed Najamul Hassan Bukhari in court room number five where NAB is asking the court for his remand.

Shehbaz’s lawyers, Amjad Pervez and Azam Tarar, are arguing that the corruption never happened because the contract was never awarded. The contract was cancelled earlier because Shehbaz caught the corruption himself

The NAB prosecutor,  is arguing that Shehbaz awarded the contract of the Ashiana Housing Scheme on Bedian Road to Ahad Cheema, who was head of the LDA at the time and a favourite of his. NAB says that the contract was awarded illegally to the LDA and that it was awarded on Shehbaz’s orders. He abused his position, according to the prosecutor.

NAB is asking for Shehbaz’s physical remand for 14 days. The judge has yet to make a decision.

Hamza Shahbaz and his younger brother Salman are already in the courtroom as are Shehbaz’s team of lawyers.

The PML-N number of workers outside the court is rising. The crowd is getting more aggressive and tense.

Workers climbed on top of the armored personnel carrier transporting the PML-N president, stopping the vehicle from progressing. The police surrounded the vehicle, trying to get the workers to move aside. Workers and police clashed outside the court, as the police attempted to get them off the APC. Footage showed policemen beating off workers with sticks.

They are trying to get into the court premises.

His son Hamza Shahbaz has already arrived at the court where other PML-N leaders such as Marriyum Aurangzeb, Uzma Bukhari and Rana Sanaullah are also present. His lawyers have also arrived.

Scores of PML-N workers have converged outside the court to support the party president. The police have taken strict security measures and are stationed outside the court. Security within the court is the responsibility of the Rangers.

No one is being allowed to enter the court and its doors have been closed.

Also read: Imran Khan and NAB are partners in crime, says Marriyum Aurangzeb

Shehbaz will be brought in through the basement lift and the cars transporting him will be parked there. Most of the workers are outside the main gate.

Shehbaz was arrested on Friday by NAB on charges of Rs14 billion corruption in the Ashiana Housing Scheme. NAB says he awarded contracts to companies he favoured, causing a loss of Rs6 million to the national exchequer.

His arrest came after Fawad Hassan Fawad, Shehbaz’s former implementation secretary, recorded his statement and told NAB that everything he did was because Shehbaz told him to.

Analysis

Speaking to SAMAA TV, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that the case was begun during the PML-N government’s tenure. This hasn’t been instigated by us, he said.

According to SAMAA TV Lahore Bureau Chief Ahmed Waleed, if Shehbaz is sent to jail, PML-N workers will likely come out onto the streets. He said when Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz arrived in Pakistan the reaction was different because Shehbaz’s strategy wasn’t that good.

Barrister Ali Zafar, who served as the caretaker information minister, explained that according to NAB law, there are two stages before a reference is filed – inquiry and investigation.

They can arrest anyone at any stage for interrogation or if they believe they have enough evidence to prove the crime.

However, he said that an arrest doesn’t mean that the crime has been proven. It just means that NAB believes it has sufficient evidence against a suspect.

 

 

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