Judicial remand of Ahad Cheema extended

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Amraiz Khan

An Accountability Court on Wednesday extended the judicial remand of former director-general (DG) Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema in the Ashiana housing scam case.

The accountability court conducted the hearing of the Ashiana housing scam case against 13 accused. Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was also produced in the court.

The cross-examination of a witness and testimonies of two more witnesses were completed in the hearing. The court has also summoned more witnesses in the case.

It may be noted here that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) included 86 witnesses in the case, whereas, statements of 23 witnesses were recorded by the court so far.

Later, the accountability court extended the judicial remand of Ahad Cheema and adjourned the hearing till March 24.

In the previous hearing, the accountability court had reserved its verdict on the acquittal plea of co-accused, Shahid and Chaudhry Sadiq, in the Ashiana housing scandal case.

Ashiana Housing Scheme reference
In the NAB reference, Shehbaz Sharif had been accused of misusing his authority to illegally issue directives for cancellation of the contract with regard to the housing project in 2014.

In March 2014, the former chief minister had visited the Ashiana-e-Iqbal project site and halted its bidding process, according to the reference.

The Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) was looking after the project, but Mr Sharif after visiting the site decided to assign the project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) which resulted in the award of the contract to the Lahore Casa Developers (JV), causing Rs715m loss to the exchequer, the reference reads.

The NAB had arrested Shehbaz Sharif in the scam on October 5, 2018, inside its Lahore office where he had appeared after being summoned for questioning in connection with a probe into the Saaf Pani Company scam.

According to NAB, “the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides awarded the Rs 14 billion contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by then Railways Minister Saad Rafique”.

 

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