PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif (File pic)
PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif (File pic)

Ashiana scandal: Last chance for Shehbaz Sharif to appear before court

ANI | Updated: Dec 24, 2019 15:05 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Dec 24 (ANI): An accountability court on Tuesday directed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party president Shehbaz Sharif to appear before it on January 7, in a case related to Ashiana Iqbal Housing scam.
Shehbaz's lawyer Muhammad Nawaz Chaudhry had filed a plea seeking exemption for the PML-N leader and requested the court to postpone the hearing due to lawyer's strike, Geo News reported.
"As per request on behalf of accused Shehbaz Sharif, adjourn to January 7, 2020, for arguments on the application for dispensation of personal attendance and appointment of pleader of accused Shehbaz Sharif, as the last opportunity," AC judge Amjad Nazeer Chaudhry said in an order.
The judge observed that the proceedings of the case were being affected due to continuous non-appearance of Sharif before the court.
The PLM-N president is currently in London with his brother Nawaz Sharif who is seeking treatment.
Sharif was arrested on October 5, 2018, by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in relation to the housing scam.
Sharif and 9 others accused in the case were indicted in the case on February 18, by an accountability court in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing scandal.
All the accused, however, have denied the charges and termed the reference filed against them as 'false'.
In 2011, during Sharif's tenure as the chief minister of Punjab, the leader had launched an affordable housing project called the Ashiana Iqbal in Lahore. Over 6,000 homes were to be built for the poor and needy near Barki road in the city. Land measuring 3,100 kanals were allocated for the purpose.
The lowest bidder, Chaudhry Abdul Latif and Sons, were awarded the contract in December 2012, to develop the homes. But a few months later, concerns were raised about the bidding process.
According to the NAB, during this time Fawad Hassan Fawad, the then secretary implementation to the chief minister, had exerted undue pressure to have the first bidder's contract cancelled and reward it to the second-lowest bidder.
Eventually, the contract was withdrawn by the first bidder in 2013, on the recommendation of the probe committee. The company then went to court and received Rs. 5.9 million as a settlement by the Punjab government. (ANI)