Pakistan’s Leader of Opposition and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif on Monday rejected his bail plea by the Lahore High Court in a money laundering case worth Rs 7 billion (USD 41.9 million).
Shahbaz, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was arrested by the country’s anti-corruption body the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), a week after opposition parties organized a nationwide protest movement to oust the Imran Khan government. Started an alliance.
Shahbaz, 69, was taken into custody from the court premises, where a large number of PML-N workers gathered for the hearing.
NAB took him to his detention center in Lahore and would produce him in an accountability court for his physical remand.
A two-member bench of the LHC headed by Sardar Ahmed Naeem rejected his bail after hearing the arguments of the NAB team and Shahbaz’s lawyer.
The Imran Khan government last week filed a case of money laundering against Shahbaz and his family, who served as the Chief Minister of Punjab from 2008 to 2018.
On September 23, Prime Minister K Shahzad Akbar on internal and accountability alleged that Shahbaz and his sons Hamza and Salman were involved in money laundering through fake accounts.
Akbar said the NAB initiated an investigation after the financial watchdog unit detected 177 suspicious transactions of Shahbaz’s family.
He alleged that billions of rupees were looted through employees of companies owned by Shahbaz and his children.
Akbar accused Shahbaz and Hamza of taking commissions in exchange for party tickets and favorite projects.
Prior to his arrest, Shehbaz told the media that Prime Minister Khan wanted to arrest him.
Shahbaz said, “This is an unholy nexus between Imran Khan and NAB that wants to put me behind bars.”
Reacting to his arrest, PML-N spokesman Maryam Nawaz said that Shahbaz was arrested only because he had not released his elder brother.
Alleging that it was a political persecution by the government, he said, “This politics of politics cannot dampen the spirits of our workers.” PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemned the arrest of Shahbaz, saying that Prime Minister Khan was worried after opposition parties started a coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, to oust the Imran Khan government.
The opposition was expecting a strong response from the government following the attack on Nawaz Sharif’s army at the multi-party conference a week ago.
Sharif addressed the conference via video link from London, talking about the military’s involvement in politics, saying the country “has a state above the state.” He said that the struggle of the united opposition is not against Khan, but against those who imposed an “incompetent” man on the nation in 2018 through a rigging. “The opposition is anticipating more arrests. NAB has already issued a call up notice to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman who is leading the joint opposition campaign against the government in terms of income.”
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