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Lahore accountability court extends Shahbaz's physical remand till Dec 6

Updated November 28, 2018

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Shahbaz Sharif has already been in NAB custody for 54 days. — APP/File
Shahbaz Sharif has already been in NAB custody for 54 days. — APP/File

An accountability court in Lahore on Wednesday extended PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif's physical remand in the Aashiana Housing case till December 6 on National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) request.

NAB had asked the court for a 15-day extension in the PML-N chief's physical remand.

Shahbaz was present in court today when Justice Saeed Najam, who was hearing the case, asked NAB how long the PML-N chairman has been in custody.

Waris Ali Janjua, special prosecutor for NAB, told the court that Shahbaz has been in custody for 54 days.

"He was given a questionnaire regarding the case on November 19. Shahbaz submitted his written reply in the case yesterday," Janjua said.

He added: "However, in reply to three or four questions, Shahbaz has said that he does not remember the correct details and will have to check [some documents] to answer them."

Shahbaz's lawyer argued that investigation into the case had been going on since January this year, and that the PML-N president had been in NAB custody for 54 days now.

"NAB is looking to extend Shahbaz's remand illegally and without cause," the lawyer argued in court, adding that the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) had already taken all of the information regarding the PML-N chairman's tax details.

"In 2011 Shahbaz gave his son Hamza a gift of Rs80 million. The details of that were not mentioned in his tax returns," Janjua contended.

"This occurred two years prior [to the scope of the investigation], why is it being linked to the Aashiana investigation?" Shahbaz's lawyer asked.

"From what [point in] time is NAB investigating the case," the judge asked after hearing this exchange, to which Janjua replied that NAB had been investigating the matter since December 2012.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the court reserved its verdict on the matter, later announcing that Shahbaz would remain in NAB custody for another week.

The NAB prosecutor in today's hearing also mentioned that Shahbaz's medical examination would be conducted at Sheikh Zayed Hospital.

Shahbaz, however, preferred to be treated at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) "since they know all of my [medical] history", he told the court.

It is pertinent to mention here that after a series of medical examinations ordered by the court, Shahbaz's medical reports revealed that the PML-N president is suffering from a kidney infection, has a lymph node in his chest, and faces chances of a recurrence of cancer.

Although earlier medical reports had deemed Shahbaz fit for NAB's custody, the column mentioning his fitness for detention was left blank in the the latest medical certificate issued on Tuesday.

The reports and the medical certificate, copies of which are available with Dawn, were signed by consultant physician Dr Asif Irfan, cardiologist Dr Hamid Iqbal, surgeon Dr Naveed Ullah and senior medical officer Dr Imtiaz Ahmed.

According to the reports, Shahbaz should be kept at a well-ventilated place to avoid chances of the recurrence of cancer.

One of the three health experts — from whom Dawn sought comments on Shahbaz's medical reports — said on condition of anonymity that the PML-N leader was treated for appendicular adenocarcinoma (a cancerous tumour) years ago, and in the report it had been stated that the joint was still visible as part of the intestine had been removed, and there were chances of recurrence of the disease.

"It is also mentioned that there is eight-millimetre lymph node in the right lung," he said, adding that the report stated that there was a 5.9-millimetre-thick layer of fats in the left kidney. "The kidney is functioning, but there is an infection in it."

Another expert said that as there were chances of the recurrence of cancer, it had been suggested to engage an oncologist.

Another specialist said that though there were some changes in different organ systems, such reports needed to be compared with the old ones to know how much difference had occurred during a certain period of time.

"It has also been mentioned that the patient needs to be kept in a well-ventilated room as absence of light and less air can cause development of cancer," he said.

It is worth mentioning that Shahbaz has alleged that he was kept in a room where he could not judge whether it was day or night.

The PML-N on Tuesday also issued a sketch showing Shahbaz in solitary confinement in a small detention cell at NAB's Lahore office.

The party claimed that its leader had been detained in 10 by 10 cell located in a narrow corridor with seven cells on each side. A NAB spokesperson was not available for comment on the matter.