NAB has become politicised, court order violated, says Hamza Shehbaz

LAHORE: Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has become politicised and that the accountability watchdog violated court orders when it 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’s residence.

Speaking to the media in Lahore, Hamza said, “Teams came to the house and tried to enter it. Like Superman they came to arrest me.”

“For the first time I felt like we were like terrorists,” he said. “What was the need to conduct a raid like that? Are we terrorists?”

“Is this what our religion teaches us?” he further asked.

The PML-N leader added, “Shehbaz Sharif was called in the Saaf Pani case and was arrested in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing case. He was then granted bail in it. Even the court said NAB had ill intentions.”

He further said that every time he has received a call-up notice from the accountability bureau, despite his reservations he has shown up.

Hamza stressed that he had been given permission to travel abroad to meet his daughter and had returned a day before the court’s given deadline. “I was in Pakistan a day before the expiration of the deadline,” the PML-N leader added.

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

“What was it that was done today? Even the Supreme Court has said NAB has become politicised and because of their policies Brigadier (retd) Asad Munir committed suicide,” Hamza said. “They say he took his own life because of what they [NAB] do. A day earlier the Council of Islamic Ideology also condemned the way they conduct raids and put people in handcuffs.”

“If they want to arrest Hamza Shehbaz let them arrest me,” Hamza said. 

He further said NAB violated court’s orders. “According to the order, NAB has to inform me 10 days before making an arrest.”

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

“Imran, listen with open ears, we took an oath and we will continue to work on it. We took the oath to bring together the opposition and work together. In reply to that, all you’ve done is abuse us,” he lamented.

“We did not even take a penny from the national exchequer and even the court says NAB could not prove anything,” the PML-N leader added.

He said he spent seven months in prison when he was just an 18-year-old college student. “When I was acquitted the judge even said that it was not my age to be arrested,” Hamza said, and added that he spent 10 years during former president General (redt) Pervez Musharraf’s era outside the court. “A general at that time told me they could not find anything against my family.”

Once again turning to the prime minister, Hamza said he heard he [Imran] was a sportsman. “This was unsportsman-like attitude and all his container promises are turning out to be false.”

“Niazi sahab you can’t even spend a single night in prison. You cannot scare us. If you want competition, compete with us in the political arena and you won’t be even seen. 

“If you want to hunt down thieves, you should look in your own federal cabinet.”

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 treated aggressively 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.

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