Pakistani authorities on Monday arrested the leader of the country’s opposition on charges of corruption, prompting hundreds of his supporters to protest against the latest arrest of a top opponent by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Shehbaz Sharif, 69, was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore when the court rejected his bail plea in a money-laundering case. He has denied the allegations against him and claimed that the assets being investigated belong to his relatives.
During the hearing, supporters of his PML-N party chanted slogans against Khan, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the country’s powerful military.
It is the second time the NAB, the country’ anti-corruption watchdog, has ordered the arrest of Sharif, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Two years ago, the NAB accused him of having illegally awarded contracts for a social housing project when he was chief minister of the Punjab province.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from his post in July 2017 by the country’s Supreme Court after the Panama Papers leak revealed that he owned luxury apartments in London.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for graft but was granted bail on medical grounds last year. He is currently living in Britain, where he is receiving medical treatment.
Khan’s government is pushing for the ex-PM’s return to Pakistan so that he may continue serving his jail sentence.
Nawaz Sharif commented on his brother’s arrest on Twitter, calling the move a disgraceful tactic that “will not make us bow down.”
The younger Sharif is yet another opposition politician who was arrested over graft by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) before a formal case was launched.
NAB’s pre-arrest powers have been repeatedly criticised by the opposition, the Supreme Court and Human Rights Watch.