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Five more NAB witnesses give clean chit to PM Shehbaz in Ashiana Iqbal Housing scam

LAHORE: Giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, five more National Accountability Bureau (NAB) witnesses on Saturday testified before an accountability court in Lahore that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president was not guilty in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Society reference.

The development came as an accountability court started hearing the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Society reference. Accountability court recorded statements of five witnesses produced by the National Accountability Bureau. Advocate Anwaar Hussain appeared before court on behalf of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. NAB Prosecutor Waris Janjua got recorded statements of the witnesses.

The witnesses said they had no knowledge of any illegal act committed in the project. They added that the bid was opened as per rules and regulations, project was signed and financed through finance committee and all the relevant documents were designed according to rules.

NAB witness Layyah Deputy Commissioner Khalid Pervaiz took the stance that he worked as LDA director from 2013 to 2015. He said he had signed the Ashiana Housing Society implementation project. He further said he had recorded his statement before NAB’s investigation officer on March 6, 2018.

NAB’s second witness Mehmood Ahmad Sulehri said the LDA had constituted a committee on Ashiana Housing Society project and asked Nespak to nominate a senior member for the body. “Nespak nominated me as a member of that committee,” he added. The bid evaluation was properly done by a committee. It was then sent to a steering committee. He said he joined the investigation on March 9, 2018 and recorded his statement.

The court also recorded statement of witness Hussain Ahmad, a design specialist. He stated that he was working as design specialist in 2014. He said he had prepared proposal of the Ashiana Housing Society project. “I formulated standards relating to structure of the society. Three committees - bid opening committee, technical evaluation committee and financial evaluation committee – were formed,” he said. Hussain Ahmad said every bid was received under the watchful eye of cameras and properly signed by every member.

The court also recorded statement of another NAB witness Shahid Kamran, a research analyst. He told the accountability court that he remained working as a research analyst in the LDA from May 2014 to 2016.

The court, asking lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses, adjourned hearing of the case till March 25. The court has already exempted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from appearance.