Court summons NAB witnesses in Shehbaz’s Ashiyana housing case

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An accountability court on Saturday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce its witnesses for cross-examination on next hearing in the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Accountability court judge Sajid Ali Awan adjourned the case till Jan 7, 2023 as the counsel for the prime minister could not attend today’s hearing due to personal engagements. The court ordered the defence lawyers to cross-examine the NAB witnesses in the case on next hearing.

Former DG LDA Ahad Cheema was present in the court to attend the hearing while Anwar Shahzad represented PM Shehbaz, who has been given exemption from appearance in the court. Former principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawar, who is also a suspect in the case, did not show up in the court.

The Punjab government launched Ashiyana housing projects in 2010 during the tenure of Mr Sharif’s tenure as chief minister.

The anti-graft buster claims the PML-N president issued orders for cancelling a lawful contract given to Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the low-cost housing scheme, and subsequently awarding the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, an alleged proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited. The NAB claimed that the decision caused a loss of Rs193 million.

The former chief minister is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to give the Ashiyana-i-Iqbal project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), which later awarded it to the Lahore Casa developers, causing a loss of Rs715 million.