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Wednesday December 06, 2023

Court acquits Shehbaz Sharif, others in Ashiana Housing scam

NAB filed case in 2018, accusing Shehbaz and others of causing massive financial loss to national kitty

November 18, 2023
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File

LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore Saturday acquitted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and 10 others in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme reference, accused of which also included incumbent federal ministers Ahad Cheema and Fawad Hassan Fawad.

According to Geo News, the court declared all accused innocent in the case after it announced its verdict, which was reserved on November 2.

Accountability court's Judge Malik Ali Zulqarnain Awan had reserved the decision after concluding the final arguments presented by the lawyers and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutors on acquittal pleas.

The acquittal applications argued that all prosecution witnesses and the approvers had withdrawn their statements, indicating no possibility of conviction in the reference. The applicants urged the court to approve the applications and clear them of the charges.

In a report filed in May, the NAB informed the court that it had found no evidence of financial corruption or misuse of authority by Shehbaz Sharif.

The report stated that the allegations of misuse of authority and corruption against the former prime minister were not substantiated under the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999.

NAB had filed the reference in 2018, alleging that the PML-N president and other accused had caused a massive financial loss to the national kitty by awarding the contract to a construction firm without a competitive bidding process.

Sharif was arrested on Oct 5, 2018, in connection with the case when he appeared before the accountability bureau in another matter while Cheema was taken into custody on February 21 of the same year. Both of them were later released on bail.

Earlier, Kamran Kiyani, the brother of former army chief Ashfaque Parvez Kiyani, and Nadeem Zia of Paragon City were acquitted by the court due to a “lack of evidence”.

The NAB alleged that Cheema received illegal benefits from the owners of Paragon City Developers as a reward for awarding the housing scheme contract to their proxy firm, Bismillah Engineering.