LAHORE   -  Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif yesterday appeared before an accountability court in connection with Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases.During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) official told Special Judge Accountability Court Syed Jawadul Hassan that Hamza Shehbaz had been arrested in Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets-beyond-means cases and his physical remand would expire on June 26. Shehbaz, who is also the PML-N president, told the court that he had gone abroad for treatment while all the cases filed against him were baseless. To which, the court remarked that the cases would be decided on merit and adjourned hearing of Ramzan Sugar Mills case till June 26. The court directed NAB authorities for ensuring presence of Hamza Shehbaz on next date of hearing.

In Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing case, the court also allowed Shehbaz Sharif and other accused to leave after attendance, and summoned the prosecution witnesses on June 29 by adjourning the hearing. On the occasion, strict security measures were made while a number of PML-N workers were present to express solidarity with their leader.

Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shehbaz, who is Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembnly, were indicted in Ramzan Sugar Mills case. As per the case, Shehbaz, as the Punjab chief minister, misused his authority and got constructed a 10 kilometre sludge carrier in district Chiniot to facilitate Ramzan Sugar Mills, which was owned by his sons Hamza and Salman. The step, as per the NAB, caused a loss of Rs 213 million to the national exchequer.

Shehbaz and others were also indicted in Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing case. The bureau had accused Shehbaz of misusing his authority, which resulted in failure of the project, depriving 61,000 applicants of housing units. NAB alleged that Shehbaz in connivance with former LDA director general Ahad Cheema, awarded the contract to a proxy. A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench had already granted bail to Shehbaz Sharif in Ashiana-e-Iqbal and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. However, a division bench of the Lahore High Court had rejected the bail petitions of his son Hamza Shehbaz in assets-beyond-means and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. After rejection of his pre-arrest bail petitions, Hamza had been arrested by the accountability watchdog which later got his 14-day remand from the court the other day.  As per the NAB, suspicious transactions had been detected in Hamza Shehbaz’s bank accounts while his assets increased by many fold during past years.