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KARACHI: Agha Siraj Durrani coming out of the NAB court which granted his physical remand until March 1 on Thursday. The Sindh Assembly Speaker was taken into custody by NAB when he was on a visit to Islamabad on Wednesday.—Online
KARACHI: Agha Siraj Durrani coming out of the NAB court which granted his physical remand until March 1 on Thursday. The Sindh Assembly Speaker was taken into custody by NAB when he was on a visit to Islamabad on Wednesday.—Online

KARACHI: An accountability court on Thursday remanded Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) until March 1 so that he could be interrogated in connection with three inquiries pertaining to the alleged embezzlement of public funds, illegal appointments and the accumulation of assets beyond his known sources of income.

Having been detained from a hotel in Islamabad on Wednesday, Mr Durrani is being investigated for allegedly making 352 illegal appointments, the embezzlement of public funds in the construction of the MPA Hostel and the new Sindh Assembly building, as well as the appointment of project directors for these projects.

After the three-day immediate transitory remand was obtained, the detained PPP leader was flown to Karachi on Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the NAB investigating officer produced Mr Durrani before the administrative judge of the accountability courts, Dr Sher Bano Karim, to seek his physical remand. The PPP leader was brought to the court in an armoured personnel carrier amidst tight security.

Senior Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, including former Sindh Assembly deputy speaker Shehla Raza, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, and a number of supporters also arrived at the court in an apparent show of solidarity. The party activists chanted slogans and showered the vehicle he was travelling in with rose petals.

Agha Siraj Durrani being investigated for corruption, nepotism and embezzlement

In the remand paper, the investigation officer wrote that an inquiry had been authorised by the NAB chairman against Mr Durrani, and others regarding the accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income. It added that the suspect — being a politician and a holder of public office — had committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices, as defined in Section 9(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. Further, “[…] that he possesses or his dependents or benamidars have acquired the right or title to assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of assets or pecuniary resources disproportionable to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of living beyond that, which is commensurate with his sources of income.”

NAB prosecutor Zahid Hussain Baladi submitted the details of assets allegedly owned by Mr Durrani, which “are disproportionate to his known sources of income.” He submitted the claim that the income declared by the suspect from 1985 till June 2018 was Rs84,426,978, whereas he presented the list of properties/assets in his name as well as in his family/dependents’ name worth Rs269,004,026 (as so far determined).

According to the list prepared by NAB, Mr Durrani allegedly owns 17 movable and immovable benamidar properties, including a bombproof bungalow in his native town of Garhi Yasin in Sindh.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019