Shehbaz accuses anti-graft body of colluding with Imran’s party to target Opposition

Srinagar: Pakistan’s Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday accused the country’s anti-graft body of forming an “unholy alliance” with Premier Imran Khan’s party to target opposition leaders and vowed to continue his political struggle despite his arrest in a housing scam.

Shehbaz, who is the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), addressed the National Assembly session convened on the Opposition’s demands to protest his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The former Punjab chief minister has been in the NAB’s custody since October 5 in connection with the housing scam. The National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser last week had ordered the NAB to bring him to the assembly after the opposition requested him to convene a session, Dawn reported.

Shehbaz, 67, thanked opposition parties and leaders in particular Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for backing him.

“This is the first time in history that an opposition leader was arrested without any charges in such a hasty manner,” said Shehbaz, adding he did not want to discuss the merit of the case against him. “I want to talk about the unholy alliance between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and NAB.”

“During the election campaign, I openly said that PTI and NAB are arm in arm,” he said,

He pointed out that only PML-N members were arrested by the NAB and that his arrest came right before the by-elections on Oct 14.

The PML-N president further said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan is the product of electoral rigging.”

Stating that it has been proven that the 2018 general election was rigged, he said, “Either the July 25 polls were rigged or the by-polls were.”

Elaborating on his allegations, Shehbaz said, “Terrorism cases were filed against us on May 13 and NAB chairman prepared my arrest orders between July 5-6. However, the decision to arrest me was implemented ahead of the by-polls so it could serve a purpose.”

“PML-N, PPP, ANP and MMA emerged victors in the by-polls on the seats that the PTI so easily won during the general election,” he added. “Even the seats Imran left vacant were won by us, which shows that the general election was rigged and there is no other explanation for such a big change in just two months.”

He said he expects the Speaker to rise above the likes and dislikes and to take action against intrusion in democracy.

Shehbaz, speaking about his brother and former premier Nawaz Sharif’s jail sentence in a corruption case, said: “NAB court’s verdict clearly says that no corruption could be proven against Nawaz Sharif.”

“Yet, he was arrested. He came back, leaving behind his very sick wife who is no more today, to satisfy his conscience.

“We need to find answers to this. You are the custodian of this house, Mr Speaker,” said Shehbaz.

“I’m not here to argue my case, I’m not here to cry, or discuss the merit of the case,” he reiterated, but went on to narrate details of different aspects of the case.

Shehbaz also questioned the circumstances in which he was arrested by the corruption watchdog.

“I was called in for the Saaf Pani case but then told that I was being arrested in the Ashiyana scam,” said the PML-N president about his arrest on October 5. “Is this the tabdeeli [change] that was promised?”

“Those who are fascist and do not obey the law, should remember the end of Hitler and Mussolini.”

The PML-N leader said that he remains undeterred by his incarceration and will continue with his political struggle.

“They know I am a stumbling block,” he said. “I would like to say in all humility that I do not fear prison. I have always raised my voice in my own humble way.”