N president Shahbaz Sharif arrested for corruption in Pakistan

Shahbaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif on Saturday formally had requested National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to allow him to meet his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif.

The NAB has already arrested several close aids of Shahbaz in connection with different corruption scandals, including housing scheme scam.

The PML-N's narrative of a witch hunt has been gaining transaction after Punjab Information Minister Fiazul Hassan Chohan revealed in a press conference that former Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and former Punjab Health Minister Salman Rafique "are likely to be arrested" in another alleged development scam involving the Paragan Housing Scheme. A source at the time said that Fawad had also provided "incriminating evidence" against the ex-chief minister in the Ashiana Housing corruption case, making it hard for him (Sharif) to defend himself before a combined investigation team of the NAB Lahore.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, was arrested when he appeared before NAB to record his statement in the Punjab Saaf Pani Company case.

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Scores of party leaders, meanwhile, had earlier gathered outside the Accountability Court in Lahore, chanting slogans in favour of Shehbaz. A combined investigation team of the country's top anti-graft watchdog quizzed him for an hour over his alleged role in awarding contract to his "favourite firm" in violation of laws in the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project.

"The government is afraid that the PML-N isn't broken despite all the cheap tactics", party spokeswoman Maryam Aurangzeb said, adding: "It is an attempt to influence the by-election".

He accused the prime minister of going on a witch-hunt against the Sharif family, saying Khan could not hide his "government formed through rigging" behind these arrests. "PTI is responsible for this political victimisation and should be ready to reap what it is sowing today", he said. This, in turn, would open the way for Shehbaz Sharif's party to return to power in the coveted province of Punjab. However, the Islamabad High Court freed the trio on bail last month and suspended their sentence after they challenged the Avenfield verdict. Fawad had reportedly also provided "incriminating evidence" against the younger Sharif in the corruption case, making it hard for him to defend himself before NAB's investigators.

"Shahbaz Sharif was arrested to pave the way for the ruling party candidates to win the by-poll", said one of the speakers.

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