Embattled Opposition leader in the National Assembly Mr. Shahbaz Sharif and his son Mr. Hamza Shahbaz, opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, are going to face one more legal battle. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has reportedly decided to nominate both leaders as accused in Ramzan Sugar Mills reference.
According to details available on national media, the NAB team has sent the reference to the NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal. NAB’s executive board will provide approval to file the reference. Once the approval would be accorded, the reference will formally be filed against the top PML-N leaders.
The complete reference reportedly consists of 600 pages, including statements of witnesses and former deputy commissioner along with records of the approval of the contract. Witnesses in the case include former principal secretary to Shahbaz Sharif Dr. Tauqeer Shah and other officials.
It is worth noting here that the probe into the reference regarding construction of a drain and a bridge in Chiniot worth Rs210 million was initiated in March 2018, allegedly to facilitate Ramzan Sugar Mill; Salman and Hamza were chief executive officers of the said mill. Former additional secretary of Punjab CM for planning Hamid Amir Ali Malik told NAB that the contract of the drain was approved for construction following Shehbaz’s orders, who was the CM Punjab then.
Apart from Mr. Sharif, some other individuals including senior bureaucrats are in the custody of the NAB with regard to this case.
It is worth mentioning here that the PML-N president was arrested by NAB on 5th October in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case and was produced before accountability court, Judge Najmul Hasan. He has been accused of ordering cancellation of the contract of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to a successful bidder, leading to the award of the contract to another builder, which resulted into a loss of Rs 193 million approximately.
He also directed PLDC to assign the project of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to LDA resulting into the award of contracts to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing loss of Rs 715 million approximately and ultimately failure of the project, according to the notice.
Apart from Mr. Sharif, some other individuals including senior bureaucrats are in the custody of the NAB with regard to this case. The anti-corruption watchdog argues that the former Punjab Chief Minister misused his authority which resulted in heavy loss to the public money. But the opposition has rejected the claims of the NAB and has termed it as a pawn in the hands of the present government.
Analysts opine that the NAB is seemingly not being controlled by the sitting government and if it goes ahead the way it is moving forward at the moment, there is going to be a serious political challenge for the PML-N
Mr. Sharif and his elder brother have repeatedly maintained that they were being victimized on political grounds. “There is no proof against me. I challenge everyone to prove corruption of a single rupee against me,” Shahbaz Sharif has said this many times on various forums.
Analysts opine that the NAB is seemingly not being controlled by the sitting government and if it goes ahead the way it is moving forward at the moment, there is going to be a serious political challenge for the PML-N. The party is family-centric and if both Shahbaz and Nawaz are in the jail, in case of Hamza’s arrest, there will be a serious leadership crisis.
Although Maryam Nawaz to her followers has all the qualities of being their leader to head PMLN, Avenfield case against her proved otherwise. It is also on the cards that a new leadership within the party will emerge to reorganize the party and determine its future course of actions. This is reportedly worrying for the Sharif clan.
Moreover, as a matter of fact, mainstream political parties like PML-N and PPP are largely the continuation of certain dynasties. Observers and experts argue that these parties are interesting examples of dynastic politics where power is shared only within the family in order to ensure the survival of the family rule.
It is such a political trend which is now being proven a political challenge for Sharif family, leading to an unfathomable leadership crisis.