Pakistan: Key opposition politician held on graft charges

  11 June 2019    Read: 1003
Pakistan: Key opposition politician held on graft charges

Hamza Shehbaz, opposition leader in provincial assembly, arrested after court rejected his bail plea.

An opposition leader in Pakistan has been arrested by the country’s anti-corruption authorities on graft and money laundering charges, an official said on Tuesday.

The arrest of Hamza Shehbaz -- who is leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly and son of Shehbaz Sharif, opposition leader in the National Assembly -- came after a two-member bench of the Lahore High Court rejected his interim bail plea.

On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested former President Asif Ali Zardari after a court in capital Islamabad rejected his bail plea in a separate graft case.

"Arrest of Asif Zardari and Hamza Shehbaz show that law is equal for everyone," Firdous Ashiq Awan, an adviser to prime minister on information, told reporters in Islamabad.

“I congratulate Imran Khan who is fulfilling his promises with the nation,” she added.

On April 9, an accountability court in Lahore indicted Hamza and his father Shehbaz in corruption case for “misuse of authority and public funds” for their family sugar mill.

Speaking to local broadcaster Geo News, Ahsan Iqbal, a member of opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, called the arrest “a political revenge” and said the government is arresting opposition members “to hide its incompetence”.

Hamza’s uncle and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also serving prison time after he was sentenced in a corruption case. Nawaz’s younger brother Shahbaz is out on bail and facing similar charges. Both political leaders say they are suffering from health complications.

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