Opposition leader arrested in corruption case

NAB DG Irfan Naeem Mangi was one of the six members of the Panamagate joint investigation team. ─ File

NAB DG Irfan Naeem Mangi was one of the six members of the Panamagate joint investigation team. ─ File

A NAB court on Saturday heard charges that Sharif in 2014 illegally canceled a contract with a construction company and sought to award it to another company, allegedly for a bribe. A NAB prosecutor told the judge that Sharif had "misused his powers" as the Chief Minister and granted the contract to his favourite company, causing "losses of millions of rupees to the national exchequer".

Sharif is the younger brother of former ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court past year over corruption allegations.

The protesters chanted slogans against the current government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and also demanded immediate release of Shehbaz Sharif.

Shahbaz, the opposition leader in the National Assembly or the lower house of the parliament, has been facing an inquiry regarding the scam after the housing scheme for poor people failed due to alleged corruption. She said party workers and leaders are united. They claimed that Shahbaz Sharif was arrested to malign PML-N before the by-polls. Shehbaz Sharif is being probed in other corruption cases as well.

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Sharif's lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said on October 6 that the court ordered his client be remanded in custody for 10 days to be interrogated.

RedGerbera (CC BY-SA 3.0)The arrest of Shehbaz Sharif, 67, is the latest blow to the Sharif family in which multiple members were indicted or convicted of corruption. He has fled to the United Kingdom and the NAB has written to the interior ministry to bring him back from overseas through Interpol.

"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".

His brother, PML-N supreme leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said in a statement that the allegations against Shehbaz were "ridiculous", and blamed Prime Minister Imran Khan's government for the witch hunt.

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The Ashiana Housing Scheme was launched by the Punjab government in 2010.

Head of Pakistan's opposition party appeared in a court for the first time on Saturday since his arrest 18 hours ago in what the country's anti-corruption body called a campaign against corruption, officials said. However, the Islamabad High Court freed the trio on bail last month and suspended their sentence after they challenged the Avenfield verdict.

The Panama Papers case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in the 1990s when he twice served as Pakistan's prime minister to purchase assets in London.

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