NAB conducts raid at Shehbaz residence to arrest Hamza

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) conducted a raid at 96-H Model Town, the residence of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

A press release by NAB said a team had gone to the residence to arrest Hamza Shehbaz on the basis of evidence against him in the assets beyond means and alleged money laundering case. The press release added that NAB officials were manhandled by Hamza Shehbaz’s guards, their clothes were torn and death threats were given.

“NAB officials had gone to the residence with an arrest warrant and the Supreme Court had stated that the accountability bureau did not require to inform any accused prior to arresting them,” read the press release. 

The press release added that Hamza Shehbaz had violated the law and the bureau on the basis of evidence against and in light of Supreme Court directives would arrest him. 

‘Felt like terrorists’

Speaking to reporters outside the residence, Hamza Shehbaz said for the first time he felt like a terrorist as this was the type of action taken against them.

“SC has said that NAB has been politicised. NAB personnel thinking they were Superman came to arrest me.”

“Whenever I received a call-up notice, despite my reservations I appeared before NAB,” he asserted. 

Hamza stressed that he had been given permission to travel abroad to meet his daughter and had returned a day before the court given deadline.

“No one is asking about the corruption in the BRT project. Only Shehbaz Sharif and Mariyum Nawaz are arrested,” Hamza added. 

The PML-N leader was critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan, stating that his government was crumbling and this was a reaction to that.

According to Hamza, the Lahore High Court (LHC) order in his case had not been dismissed by the Supreme Court. 

Earlier, Hamza Shehbaz’s lawyer Atta Tarar told reporters that the LHC order required a ten-day notice prior to his client being arrested.  

“The high court in its order has clearly written that Hamza Shehbaz should be informed 10-days prior to any movement on his arrest and he should be given sufficient time to approach the court. In light of the high court order no arrest is possible,” said Tarar.   

Prior to leaving the Model Town residence, Deputy Director NAB Chaudhry Muhammad Asghar said they had come to meet Hamza Shehbaz. “We came here to respectfully meet Hamza bhai [brother] and were surrounded. The clothes of our personnel were torn,” he added. 

Shehbaz Sharif along with his sons Hamza and Salman are facing multiple NAB inquires, including those into the Ashiana Housing scandal, Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets beyond means. 

‘No warrant or warning’

PML-N leaders alleged that the raid was carried out without any warrant or prior notice.  

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told media that Hamza along with Shehbaz Sharif and other members of the family were present at the residence when the raid was carried out by 7-8 personnel from NAB without any warning.

“Under which law was this raid conducted without any prior notice? Are Hamza and Shehbaz terrorists?” she lashed out, adding, “The current government is afraid of Shehbaz and it is using NAB to advance its own goals.”

“NAB is resorting to conducting the raid without a warrant after they failed to find even a penny’s worth of corruption against Shehbaz Sharif,” she stressed.

“NAB was unable to prove any sort of corruption, and now it is using its black law to harass them without any warrant or prior notice. Under which law is this allowed?” the PML-N spokesperson questioned.

Shahbaz Gill the spokesperson for the Punjab government said NAB was an independent institution. “The government has no influence on it and the PTI does not believe in victimisation.” 

PTI Information Secretary Umar Cheema said if Hamza Shehbaz had evidence proving his innocence he should provide it to NAB. “These cases should be brought to their conclusion and there should be independent accountability,” he added. 

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a tweet said if NAB had raided Shehbaz Sharif’s home with a warrant then it was highly condemnable. “PPP doesn’t oppose accountability but we oppose political vendettas in the name of accountability. Yet another authoritarian & undemocratic move by the government.”

NAB press release on raid at Shehbaz Sharif’s residence