LAHORE: Reacting to a statement by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Naeemul Haq, former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique said on Saturday the production orders of arrested opposition leaders being issued by the National Assembly speaker were not an act of charity but their basic right.

“The statement of Mr Haq has caused a great damage to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as it is against the norms of democracy,” Mr Rafique said while talking to media outside an accountability court where he, with his brother Khwaja Salman Rafique, was produced by the National Accountability Bureau after expiry of their physical remand in the Paragon City case.

On Jan 23, Mr Haq in his multiple tweets had criticised Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif for “misusing production orders”. “Does he want to spend more time in jail sulking? Does he want his production orders to be revoked? Last chance,” the prime minister’s special assistant had tweeted.

Physical remand of PML-N MNA, brother extended for seven days

Mr Rafique said production orders of arrested parliamentarians had been issued even during the dictatorial regime of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. He said the statement of Mr Haq was in fact the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Talking about the cases against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, Mr Rafique said they were ready to face any punishment as it would not bother them. He alleged that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had not been provided adequate medical treatment despite facing a critical heart problem. “My younger brother Salman has also been suffering from fever for the last four days without any medication,” he said.

Remand extended

Earlier, NAB’s special prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the accountability court that further physical remand of the Khwaja brothers was required as investigation remained halted due to Mr Rafique’s participation in National Assembly proceedings.

Amjad Pervez, the counsel for the PML-N leaders, opposed the prosecutor’s request saying NAB had nothing new to seek further remand. He claimed that at each hearing the bureau sought extension in physical remand of the Khwaja brothers on same old grounds.

The defence counsel said NAB had been demanding 10-year record of banking transactions of the Khwaja brothers despite the fact that all bank accounts maintained by them had already been declared. However, he said, the required record had been given to the bureau. The counsel reiterated that his clients had no link to the housing society in question.

He asked the court to turn down NAB’s request and, instead, send his clients on judicial remand.

However, Presiding Judge Syed Najamul Hassan Bokhari extended the physical remand of the Khwaja brothers for seven days and directed NAB to produce them again on Feb 2.

Scores of PML-N activists were present outside the judicial complex before the appearance of the Khwaja brothers. The police had taken strict security measures in and outside the premises.

NAB has alleged that the former railways minister through his “benamidar” wife Ghazala and in connivance with his brother Salman, former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue. The project was later converted into a new housing project namely Paragon City, which was an illegal housing society as it was not approved by the Lahore Development Authority.

NAB has alleged that the suspects, along with their accomplices, have cheated people and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019