Unfortune Umbrella for Brothers: Shehbaz Sharif Tests Positive for COVID-19; Non-bailable Arrest Warrant Issued for Nawaz Sharif in Toshakhana Reference

PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has tested positive for coronavirus, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed on Thursday.

Shehbaz, 69, a cancer survivor, is isolating at home, Aurangzeb said, adding that the PML-N leader was following his doctors’ advice on how to fight the infection.

Speaking to Geo Pakistan, PML-N representative Ata Tarar revealed that Shehbaz had himself tested for COVID-19 after showing mild symptoms of the infection. He said that the result of the test came back positive on June 10, at 4pm.

“He was summoned on June 9 by NAB. We kept saying he is a cancer survivor, and even if you do want to conduct the investigation then do so via video link. However, this is blind political vendetta,” he said.

In response to a question about the former Punjab chief minister traveling with hundreds of PML-N workers and not paying heed to social distancing protocols, Tarar said that he had appealed to the party’s supporters to remain indoors and not gather at public places. 

“It wasn’t an official call from the party [for them to come out],” he said. “We wanted to avoid this situation. I want to say on record that if God forbid, anything were to happen to him, NAB and Imran Niazi will be held responsible.”

Tarar said that the party had submitted in writing that the PML-N president was a cancer survivor hence his life was at risk from the infection. 

Reiterating that there was no need for Shehbaz to appear in person for the investigations, Tarar said that the party had requested that the PML-N leader be allowed to answer questions via video link to ensure he remained safe from the virus. 

Shehbaz had appeared on June 9 at NAB Lahore after he was summoned by the anti-graft body to answer questions related to the assets beyond means and money laundering case. 

An accountability court on Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana reference.

Nawaz, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and former president Asif Ali Zardari were summoned to attend a hearing related to the Toshakhana reference today.

During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor Muzaffar Abbasi appealed to the court to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant for Nawaz, saying that since he was abroad, advertisements against the PML-N chief can be published in foreign newspapers.

The prosecutor further informed the court that another co-accused in the case, Anwar Majeed, was incarcerated in Karachi’s Malir jail for his alleged involvement in other references.

The hearing today was attended by Gilani and suspect Abdul Majid Ghani, while Zardari’s application exempting him from appearing before the court today was accepted.

The court, while exempting Zardari from attending proceedings today, ordered that another notice for appearance be sent to the former president.

According to NAB, Zardari and Nawaz received cars from former prime minister Gilani illegally.

Zardari had paid only 15% of the total cost of the cars through fake accounts, according to NAB. He also received the cars as a gift from Libya and the UAE when he was president and used them for his personal use instead of depositing them in the treasury, alleged NAB. 

The anti-graft body further alleged that Abdul Ghani Majeed paid for the vehicles through fake accounts whereas Anwar Majeed made more than Rs20 million through illegal transactions using the Ansari Sugar Mills accounts.

According to reports, Nawaz was not holding any public office in 2008 but was given a vehicle without any justification. NAB says the leaders have been charged with corruption under sub-sections 2, 4, 7 and 12 of Section 9 (A) of the NAB Ordinance.

The Toshakhana (gift depository) gift from any country to the head of the state remains the property of the government unless sold at an open auction. Rules allow officials to retain gifts with a market value of less than Rs10,000 without paying anything.

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