Despite anticipations of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's arrest today, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday extended his interim bail till September 28 in the assets beyond means and money laundering cases.
A two-member bench headed by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem heard the case. The National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) special prosecutor Syed Faisal Raza Bukhari was also present. The PML-N president appeared in court alongside his counsels, Amjad Pervez and Azam Nazir Tarar.
Counsel Azam Nazir said Advisor to PM on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar's statement on Shehbaz Sharif's interim bail was in the headlines again. "What impression will it give if he speaks in such a tone? The matter is being heard in court but Shahzad Akbar still made a statement on the matter," he said.
The counsel maintained that the Supreme Court (SC) asked a few questions after the reference was filed. To this Justice Naeem asked whether he got this point written. Nazir replied that the matter was going on in the SC at the same time which was why he could not have the point written.
He added that the SC has remarked that NAB makes arrests to satisfy its ego. Shehbaz's counsel sought some time saying that they have sought a copy of the SC's official document.
Shehbaz Sharif's counsel Amjad Pervez argued that on December 16, 2018, an attempt was made to grant a physical remand of the PML-N president in the assets beyond means and money laundering case. However, NAB did not arrest him.
The counsel maintained that according to court decisions, the accused must be arrested in all cases if more than one case is registered in the same police station. He said Shehbaz was summoned in June 2020, but the NAB chairman had already issued an arrest warrant for the former chief minister on May 28, 2020.
Amjad Pervez said the purpose of summoning Shehbaz on June 6 was to seek clarification from him. However, NAB, according to prior approval, issued a notice and also procured an arrest warrant. Procuring an arrest warrant four to five days before the date of the PML-N president's appearance reflects NAB's malafide intentions, he added.
"History is full of cases of treason to suppress the voice of the opposition. Since October 23, 2018, there is no report that Shehbaz Sharif has tampered with evidence of the prosecution," Pervez argued.
Counsel Azam Nazir, in his arguments, said NAB has become an institution of political engineering. "It seems necessary to arrest Shehbaz Sharif because local body elections are about to take place," he said, adding that the Khwaja brothers, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former minister Ahsan Iqbal have also faced similar charges.
"When the challan is presented and the investigation is completed, there is no justification for the arrest. Similar is the case with Shehbaz Sharif."
Seeking permission to speak, Shehbaz Sharif said that "the night it was reported that this [the flight he took from London] is the last flight returning to Pakistan, I returned to my people and surrendered myself before the authorities."
"NAB said these anonymous assets are mine. If you allow me to give you a full briefing, I will show you that these assets are not mine. Some very heavy allegations have been levelled against me. It was said that the assets of my children are mine," he further said.
The LHC said the petition was filed voluntarily and asked Shehbaz to consult his counsel if he chooses to assist the court in the investigation.
The Lahore High Court extended Shehbaz Sharif's interim bail till September 28 and adjourned the hearing of the case.