LAHORE: In a move which the PML-N says will further alienate the opposition from the PTI government on the issue of legislation on the extension in service of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, on Tuesday froze 23 properties of opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, his sons — Hamza and Suleman — and other family members in connection with an investigation involving them in the income beyond means and money laundering case.

“Lahore NAB Director General Shahzad Saleem has frozen the 23 properties of Shahbaz Sharif, his sons and other family members in the income beyond means and money laundering case under Section 12 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, in the light of the court’s order in this respect,” an official told Dawn.

“Having examined evidence collected so far during investigation, it is found that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused — Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza, Suleman and other Shahbaz Sharif’s family members — have committed the said offences. These properties, therefore, are attached under Section 12 of the NAO 1999 till the disposal of the Reference by the accountability court,” he said.

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said that these properties had been declared by the Shahbaz family members and NAB’s ‘fresh action’ against him (Shahbaz) and his family members had the footprints of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “On the one hand the apex court declared Shahbaz Sharif a good man who took measures to plug corruption in Ashiyana housing project, and on the other, NAB launches fresh action against him and his family members, and other PML-N leaders like Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah at the behest of Imran Khan,” she said.

PML-N believes move will affect issue of army chief’s service extension

Talking to Dawn, Ms Aurangzeb said: “This attitude of inept Niazi shows that the PTI government is deliberately sabotaging legislation on the extension of the army chief in the parliament. There seems to be a method in the government’s move with regard to controversial extension order (of the army chief) that was later challenged in the court and now it’s accelerated action against the opposition, especially the PML-N.”

The apex court had on Thursday allowed extension/reappointment of Gen Bajwa for another six months and asked the government to determine the tenure, terms and conditions of the service of the army chief through legislation within the six-month period.

According to NAB, the frozen properties include two houses in Model Town, Nishat Lodges in Dounga Gali, Murree which are acquired by Shahbaz Sharif in the name of his wife Nusrat Shahbaz.

A cottage, a villa and a plot in Haripur and two houses in Defence Lahore are acquired by Shahbaz Sharif in the name of his other wife, Tehmina Durrani.

Land measuring over 390 kanal in Chiniot is in the name of Hamza Shahbaz and Suleman Shahbaz. Nine plots measuring five marla each in Jauhar Town and over five-kanal house in Judicial Colony Lahore are in the name of Hamza Shahbaz.

Last month, the NAB Lahore wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), asking it to stop Shahbaz Sharif and his family members from transferring their shares/revenue in their nine companies to anyone else.

Shahbaz Sharif has been on bail in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiyana Housing cases, while Hamza is on judicial remand in the income beyond means, money laundering and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. Suleman Shahbaz is absconding and presently resides in the UK.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019