Pakistan: Court remands opposition leader in graft case

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – A Pakistani court on Saturday remanded opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif in custody of anti-corruption authorities for 10 days in a housing scheme scandal.

Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif and three-time chief minister of the most populous province Punjab, was taken away by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the northeastern city of Lahore.

Earlier, he was brought to the court in an armored personnel carrier surrounded by security officials.

His son Hamza Shehbaz led hundreds of party workers outside the courtroom who chanted slogans against the government and NAB.

Footage on television showed scores of supporters trying to enter the packed courtroom, compelling the judge to postpone the hearing for sometime.

Shehbaz Sharif, who also heads the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, is accused of cancelling a housing contract and transferring it to his preferred company for the construction of low-cost houses for the poor and middle-class in Punjab, a stronghold of the party.

Shehbaz Sharif, who is facing several other cases, rejected the allegation saying he had cancelled the said contract because it was granted to a blacklisted company.

His arrest came days before by-elections on 37 national and provincial assembly seats.

Nawaz Sharif, who remains embroiled in corruption cases, after being ousted, jailed and then released on bail, called the arrest "political vendetta" — a contention also supported by several local media outlets and independent analysts.

Blaming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for victimization, he said in an interview to Geo News: "You better go to that length which you can bear when you are in opposition."

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