National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials left PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's residence in Lahore's Model Town on learning that he was not present there.
Earlier, NAB officials and police had gathered outside Shehbaz's residence in Model Town after he had missed another hearing with the anti-graft watchdog in relation to cases involving money laundering and possession of assets beyond known income sources.
Live footage on TV showed PML-N workers gathered outside Shehbaz's home, protesting loudly. Footage also showed police officials in anti-riot gear stopping people and media personnel from approaching the residence and barricades set up along the perimeter.
According to media reports, NAB is en route to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's residence at Jati Umra. However, NAB or PML-N have yet to confirm this.
Earlier today, Shehbaz was supposed to appear before NAB but had excused himself from appearing a third time, citing health concerns.
In a statement submitted to the bureau, he said: "It has been widely reported in the media that some NAB officials have tested positive for Covid-19.
"Please appreciate [that] I am a cancer survivor and and 69 years old. I have been advised limited exposure on account of the peculiar background of low immunity," he said.
He added that he was available to answer any queries by the investigation team via Skype.
'This is a witch hunt'
PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb lambasted the government and the anti-corruption watchdog.
Speaking to DawnNewsTV, she said: "Nobody criticises Imran Khan, no one arrests Buzdar. This circus is being done to distract [the people from] corruption and theft, to fool the Pakistani people. It does not make a difference to the PML-N.
"The NAB-Niazi nexus is being used. This is the response to corona, this is the response to the Rs3 billion sugar that was looted from the people. This circus is being played out because they don't have the courage to summon Imran Khan or to arrest him and Buzdar," she said.
She added that the party will continue to speak out against the "inefficient, ineligible" government.
Meanwhile, speaking to Geo News PML-N's Malik Ahmed called the move by NAB a "witch hunt".
"NAB officials need to understand that we issued our statement based on doctor's advice. And we have never said no to answering any questions."
He maintained that the move was politically motivated, stating: "Conducting a raid like this during a pandemic, that too after medical advice [...] politically their reasons are clear. They don't want [Shehbaz] to attend budget sessions because they are afraid of the truth."
On the other hand, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that today Shehbaz had proven that he was not a leader but a geedar.
Speaking to Geo News, he said: "He boasted when he came back from London that he's here to fight the coronavirus [...] the international protocol is only 14 days [in quarantine] not 1,400 days."
He added that Shehbaz should have appeared before NAB when he was summoned. "When there was a case on the premier, he presented a document and the court gave him a certificate of sadiq and ameen. But [Shehbaz] knows he can't do that because he's guilty of the worst kind of corruption."
Previous summons by NAB
On May 4, Shehbaz had appeared before the CIT — unlike his response to previous summons — in which he had maintained that he couldn't join the investigation in person due to Covid-19 as he was a cancer survivor.
Responding to the questions, Sharif had said all his assets had been declared and he had already submitted the relevant details to NAB. He had reiterated that he did not commit corruption, and rather saved billions of rupees in development projects when he was the chief minister of Punjab.
However, NAB had termed the reply and record submitted by Shehbaz unsatisfactory and had summoned him again on June 2 (today), asking him to come along with the required information.
Shehbaz was granted bail by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in February last year in the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills references filed by NAB against him. He had left for London in November along with PML-N supremo and his older brother Nawaz Sharif, who was allowed to travel abroad by the government and courts to seek medical treatment.
After remaining in the United Kingdom for over four months, the PML-N president had returned to Pakistan on March 22 upon his brother's advice, in view of the coronavirus pandemic and after the government's decision to suspend international flights.