Shehbaz Sharif arrest leaves Pakistan's opposition party in tatters

Pakistan opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif sent to 10-day NAB remand in Rs 1,400 crore housing scam

Pakistan's opposition leader and former chief minister of eastern Punjab province Shahbaz Sharif has been remanded for 10 days in a corruption case by the accountability court and he was handed over to the anti-graft body for further investigation here on Saturday, local media and lawyers said.

Shahbaz, 67, is the younger brother of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, 68, who is facing corruption charges in three cases.

The upcoming by-elections may prove a pivotal moment as the PML-N looks to win back control of Punjab.

NAB was granted a 10-day physical remand of Shehbaz by an accountability court on Saturday. 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.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday is chairing a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Lahore. Sharif's party (PML-N) had come second in the general election leading their party to denounce "the polls as rigged" and allege "the military and courts tipped the scale in favour of Khan's party".

In his statement before NAB in August, Fawad had claimed that he had awarded a contract to a "favourite firm" in the Ashiana Housing project on Shahbaz's order.

"We strongly condemn the arrest of the party president by the NAB". The PPP chairman said his party had no issues with accountability, but there must be no political victimisation in the name of accountability. Shahbaz's close confidant Ahad Cheea and Nawaz's principal secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad are already in the NAB's custody in the Ashiana housing scheme scam. He was released from prison last month pending an appeal. Shehbaz Sharif is being probed in other corruption cases as well. Shehbaz Sharif is accused of cancelling the contract of successful bidder M/s Chaudhry Latif & Sons and instead obliging M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV) - a proxy group of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited (which is stated to be developed by former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique) - causing millions of rupees of losses to the national treasure.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah condemned the arrest, calling it an insult to Parliament.

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