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Pakistan courts nail oppn leaders Sharif, Zardari

Lahore: Pakistan’s Leader of the Opposition and PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif was arrested in Lahore while an anti-corruption court in Islamabad indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari in a money laundering case, days before joint Opposition’s planned protests to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Shahbaz, the younger brother of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was taken into custody from the Lahore High Court’s premises, where a large number of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers gathered ahead of the hearing in the Rs 700 crores (USD 41.9 million) money laundering case.

A two-member LHC bench headed by judge Sardar Ahmed Naeem rejected Shahbaz’s bail plea after hearing the arguments from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team and his lawyer.

The NAB arrested Shahbaz and took him to its Lahore’s detention centre. It will produce him to the accountability court for his physical remand.

The Imran Khan government last week filed the money laundering case against 69-year-old Shahbaz, who served as chief minister of Punjab province from 2008 to 2018, and his family.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz strongly criticized the arrest of her uncle and party president Shehbaz, saying he was being “punished” for standing by his brother Sharif’s side.

Reacting to the development, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said “political victimization of the opposition continues during a global pandemic”.

Pakistan’s major opposition parties have demanded “immediate” resignation of Prime Minister Khan and planned countrywide protests next month to oust his government.

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