Lahore: Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif termed the “ridiculous” arrest of his brother Shehbaz Sharif as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s “worst victimisation.”
This comes after Shehbaz was arrested on Friday by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s anti-corruption body, for his alleged involvement in the Rs.14 billion (Pakistani Rupee) Ashiana Housing Scheme scam.
Shehbaz was summoned by the court for his involvement in the allegedly corrupt Saaf Pani Company, the erstwhile Punjab government’s flagship programme aimed at providing access to safe drinking water in rural areas of the province.
“Shehbaz, being the chief minister of Punjab, (had) set an example of public service with honesty. His services were acknowledged by the people, foreign governments and international organisations,” Nawaz was quoted by Geo News, as saying.
Nawaz also asked the Imran Khan-led government to not “cover up its incompetence through such acts.”
Shehbaz was arrested on charges of misusing authority and corruption in the housing scheme during his tenure as the chief minister of Punjab province from 2013 to 2018. He is accused of providing contracts on high rates to unqualified companies of his friends.
Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly and Shehbaz’s father, Hamza alleged that the PTI government was continuing its “pre-poll manipulation” of arresting key Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders before elections are conducted, as Shehbaz’s arrest comes about a week ahead of the by-polls on October 14.
The PML-N president was kept in a highly-secured lock-up inside the NAB’s Lahore office until he was scheduled to appear before the accountability court on Saturday.
Scores of party leaders, meanwhile, have gathered outside the Accountability Court in Lahore, chanting slogans in favour of Shehbaz.