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Hamza Shahbaz arrested by NAB as plea for bail extension dismissed

Hamza Shahbaz arrested by NAB as plea for bail extension dismissed

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz from inside the Lahore High Court (LHC) in two cases regarding money laundering and holding assets beyond means, according to media.

A NAB team has left the court with Hamza, who is being taken to the Thokar Niaz Baig offices of the accountability watchdog.

The arrest took place after a two-member LHC bench, headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi, dismissed the bail applications filed by Hamza after his (Hamza’s) lawyer opted to withdraw the bail pleas in the two corruption cases.

Prior to his arrest, while speaking to the media, Hamza said that not even a “one rupee” corruption could be proven against him. “I will quit politics if it is proven that I was involved in corrupt practices,” he said.

Hamza, the son of PML-N president and National Assembly opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, is facing inquiries in the cases related to Ramzan Sugar Mills, money laundering and assets beyond means.

His arrest comes hours before the budget for fiscal year 2019-20 is due to be presented in a National Assembly session during which the opposition is expected to give a tough time to the government. It also comes a day after former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was arrested by NAB in Islamabad.

On April 5, the accountability watchdog had failed in its bid to arrest Hamza — in a case of money laundering and owning assets beyond means — as it faced strong resistance from the Sharif family’s security men as well as PML-N supporters.

On April 6, NAB faced another embarrassing day as its second attempt to arrest the PML-N leader remained unsuccessful. The five-hour siege of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif’s Model Town residence by the Lahore NAB and police ended after the LHC restrained the bureau from arresting Hamza, granting him protective bail.