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June 3, 2020

Shahbaz Sharif skips NAB appearance

Top Story

June 3, 2020

LAHORE: A team of National Accountability Bureau on Tuesday raided 96-H Model Town residence of opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif in a bid to arrest him in money-laundering and assets beyond means investigation.

However, it had to return empty-handed after learning that Shahbaz was not present at his residence. NAB issued Shahbaz arrest warrants after he skipped appearance before the Combined Investigation Team (CIT) of NAB Lahore in the said investigation.

The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) president, instead of appearing in person on Tuesday, sent a letter to the CIT head. He stated that the spread of Covid-19 was at its peak currently and, according to the media reports, some NAB Lahore officials had also tested positive for the virus. Wishing a speedy recovery to the Covid-19 positive officials, he asked NAB to consider his health condition as he was a cancer survivor and 69-year-old. Shahbaz stated that he had been advised limited exposure on account of the peculiar background of his low immunity. Shahbaz also enclosed the written replies to the questionnaire, handed over to him during his last appearance before the NAB authorities. Shahbaz concluded that “should the CIT require any discussion, he may be contacted on video link at any time at Skype ID of Attaullah Tarar”. NAB Lahore found Shahbaz Sharif’s letter dissatisfactory and issued his arrest warrants, according to officials.

However, sources claimed that Shahbaz’s arrest warrants were already issued prior to receiving Shahbaz’s letter. It has been learnt that NAB Lahore team, accompanied by a large number of police contingent, left NAB Lahore office at 4pm for 96-H Model Town residence of the opposition leader.

When the team reached Model Town, a large number of PML-N leaders and workers had also gathered there. To tackle the situation, the anti-riots force was called, which placed barricades to put the PML-N workers at bay. Sources said that Shahbaz was inside his residence, but he refused to surrender. However, the claim could not be verified independently. The NAB team remained inside the Shahbaz Sharif residence for two hours, and later left the place empty-handed.

A NAB Lahore official, while talking to The News, confirmed that the raid party returned after two hours. He said that NAB did not go to Raiwind to arrest Shahbaz as there was no intelligence that he was present at Jati Umra. Moreover, official denied any raid at residence of MPA Sohail Shaukat Butt to arrest Shahbaz Sharif.

A NAB official said that if the bureau gets any information late at night about presence of Shahbaz at any place, raids can be conducted for his arrest. He declared media reports fake that NAB officials had been infected with coronavirus. He alleged that such reports were managed by the PML-N. Even then, he added, if some officials had been affected by Covid-19, how it could impact the case investigation.

He said NAB investigation had asked Shahbaz to provide details of properties inherited by him. The bureau said that from 1998 to 2018, Shahbaz’s family assets grew from scratches to billions. As a public office-holder, Shahbaz needs to explain the increase in his assets, NAB added.

It also asked Shahbaz to submit bank details along with the loan taken from Barclays Bank from 2005 to 2007. Furthermore, NAB has also sought details of all gifts received and given by the family, details of agriculture income from 2008 to 2019 and details about the utilisation of Shahbaz’s Model Town residence as Chief Minister’s camp house. Last year in December, NAB had issued orders to freeze 23 properties belonging to the former chief minister and his sons Hamza and Suleman over the allegation that they acquired assets beyond their means and committed money-laundering.

According to the accountability bureau, an investigation against Shahbaz, Hamza, Suleman and others for the offence of “corruption and corrupt practices” had revealed that Shahbaz had acquired properties in the name of his wives Nusrat Shahbaz and Tehmina Durrani. Among the properties frozen are nine plots in Lahore’s Johar Town, four in Judicial Colony, two houses in Model Town and as many houses in DHA. Furthermore, the Bureau has also frozen a cottage and a villa in Pir Sohawa and two more plots in Chiniot.

The NAB concludes that Shahbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman acquired assets beyond their known sources of income and allegedly committed money laundering.

A heavy contingent of police reached outside the residence of Shahbaz Sharif to assist the NAB team to arrest him. At least 100 policemen and 30 SHOs [station house officers] were deployed at and around the residence of the PML-N leader. Anti-Riots Force was also deployed to handle any violent protest.

The PML-N activists had reached Model Town to show solidarity with their leader. They chanted slogans against NAB, saying they did not accept regulations of NAB. Police had erected barriers at entry points. The media persons were also not allowed to cover the protest.