A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) party left with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary chief in the National Assembly, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, from Islamabad for Lahore on Wednesday after securing his transit remand from an Islamabad accountability court.
On Tuesday night, NAB detained Asif from outside the Islamabad residence of Ahsan Iqbal, another senior PML-N official, where the former had come to attend a party meeting.
Asif has been accused of having acquired funds outside established revenue streams.
He was brought in Islamabad before an accountability, where the judge asked NAB prosecutor Sohail Arif which court will prosecute the PML-N stalwart.
The NAB prosecutor said Asif will be placed be
fore the Lahore NAB judge.
At this point, Asif’s lawyer, Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, pleaded that his client should be released because there was no basis for the case against him.
Jadoon said an investigation was launched against Asif and then closed by the Rawalpindi branch of the NAB in 2018, adding that “a case could be registered against the NAB”
He told the court that he had not been issued arrest warrants by the NAB, nor had the justification for the arrest been shared.
The court asked the anti-graft watchdog to supply the arrest warrant and reasons for the arrest to Asif’s lawyers, giving the NAB a transit remand of Asif.
Marriyum Aurangzeb and Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, the PML-N founders, were permitted to address Asif in court.
Speaking to the media outside the court premises, Asif said efforts have been underway for the past two years to create a split within the PML-N and attempts have been made to undermine PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
The firebrand opposition leader’s dramatic arrest sparked a strong response from his faction.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who was also present at the meeting at the home of Party Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, alleged that in the darkness of night, NAB behaved like a “terrorist” and “kidnapped” Asif.
In a tweet, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif condemned the arrest and called it a consequence of the “connection between the selectors and the selected.”
“Such small acts reflect the state of panic of the government, but through such actions, it is moving even closer to its end,” he said.
Charges against Asif
On Tuesday, submitting a detailed charge sheet against Asif, NAB said that, under Clause 4 of the NAB Ordinance 1999 and Section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010, NAB was carrying out investigations against the PML-N chief.
“The total value of Khawaja Asif’s assets was Rs5.1 million before assuming public office in 1991, which rose to Rs221m in 2018 after serving on various positions that do not match his known revenue sources,” the statement states.
“Accused Khawaja Asif claimed to have received Rs130m from a UAE company M/s IMECO, but he failed to present any solid evidence during the course of the investigation of receiving this amount as a salary,” it said, adding: “This clearly shows that the accused tried to prove his income through false sources.”
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In addition, NAB claimed that Asif also owned a ‘Tariq Mir and Business’ benami company that was registered in his employee’s name. It was said that a sum of Rs400m had been deposited in Tariq Mir’s account and no sources of this tremendous amount were revealed.