An accountability court in Lahore acquitted PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif among 10 suspects in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme reference on Saturday.
Judge Malik Ali Zulqarnain announced the decision in the reference, which was filed in 2018.
Other co-accused who were acquitted included caretaker Privatisation Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad, former director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Khan Cheema, Imtiaz Haider, Bilal Kidwai, Shahid Mehmood, Munir Zia, Shahid Shafiq, Ali Sajjad Bhatta and Mohammad Sadiq.
Two central suspects, Nadeem Zia and Kamran Kiani, were already granted bail in the case while Cheema told reporters after the court decision that he was asked to become a sworn witness. He added that a decision has definitely been made, but the “requirements of justice” have not been met.
It merits here to mention that the national graft buster had maintained that as many as 16,000 poor people had deposited Rs610 million in the project. They claimed that the government suffered a huge loss due to the incompetence of companies. The court had indicted 10 suspects in this reference.
The 1,000-page NAB reference comprised three volumes. It accused the 10 suspects of incurring huge losses to the national exchequer and abuse of power.
On Saturday, the NAB prosecutor informed that the Supreme Court decision does not affect the current case. To this, the court said that it would give a decision on the acquittal pleas after two hours. Later the court announced the decision.
In reaction, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb congratulated party workers and leaders on the acquittal of Shahbaz Sharif in the reference.
“Shahbaz Sharif was kept in jails and prisons despite being honest. He was arrested in the Ashiana case after being summoned in a case related to clean drinking water,” she said in a post on X and alleged that fake cases were made to arrest the PML-N president.