LAHORE Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz on Friday condemned the arrest of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Hamza alleged the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government orchestrated Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest.

“They want to secure their victory in the upcoming by-elections. They are well aware of the PML-N’s chances….. and are engaged in revenge tactics,” he said.

Hamza also criticised the PTI government for allegedly shielding and patronising land mafias and said the PML-N will fight its case in parliament and on roads.

“Not even a single penny was taken from the national exchequer in Ashiana Housing Scheme. These corruption allegations, they are all hoaxes to influence the by-elections.

“This is political victimisation at its worst. First they ousted Nawaz Sharif and now they are after Shehbaz Sharif…. Imran Khan cannot accept criticism, he can’t even face prison for two days,” he added.

Arrested

Shehbaz was arrested after appearing for a routine hearing of Saaf Pani Company scam at the National Accountability Bureau’s Lahore office. Sources told that three files were tabled before him.

The news regarding Shehbaz Sharif’s arrested was confirmed by DG NAB and Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chauhan. PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb also confirmed the party president’s arrest.

Corruption allegations

Shehbaz who faces numeorus charges in the scam is likely to be presented before the accountability court on Saturday. The anti-graft watchdog quizzed Shehbaz Sharif regarding a tender awarded to a private consultancy company for a survey of the Saaf Pani Company.

NAB officials claimed that the company did not conduct any kind of survey but nevertheless provided a lucrative sum of Rs1.5 billion. Sources said that ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad became approver in the case.

Fawad Hasan Fawad in his statement before NAB claimed he had awarded a contract to a “favourite firm” in the Rs14 billion Ashiana Housing project at the behest of Shehbaz Sharif.

The anti-graft agency said that the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled “Chaudhry Latif and Sons’ but Shehbaz Sharif awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by Railways Minister Saad Rafique”.

‘Pre-poll rigging’

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah on Friday said authorities should have had approached National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser before arresting Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

“This is the first time since 1985 that an opposition leader has been arrested. And the arrest ahead of by-elections is a hint towards pre-poll rigging,” he added.

The former opposition leader said his party would come up with a strategy after consultations, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was engaged in revenge tactics.