The Lahore accountability court on Saturday has acquitted Former Prime Minister of Pakistan and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif along with others in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme.
Alongside, former PM Shehbaz Sharif, the court has acquitted other co-accused, including, caretaker Privatization Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad, former Director General of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Khan Cheema, Imtiaz Haider, Bilal Kidwai, Shahid Mehmood, Shahid Shafiq, Munir Zia, Mohammad Sadiq, and Ali Sajjad Bhatta.
It is to be noted that the Ashiana housing project was launched by the government of Punjab government in 2010. Whereas in the year 2018, the National Accountability Bureau has accused Former PM of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, of passing the order related to the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the low cost housing scheme, which led to the subsequent award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, resulting in a loss of over Rs193 million.
He was also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to the LDA, which awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, causing a loss of Rs715m and the ultimate failure of the project.
NAB had also accused the former Punjab chief minister of directing the PLDC to award the consultancy services contract for the Ashiana-i-Iqbal project to Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab for Rs192m, while the actual cost was supposed to be Rs35m as quoted by Nespak, a renowned engineering consultancy.
Shehbaz Sharif, Fawad, Cheema and several others were arrested later in 2018. The PML-N president and others were indicted in the case in February 2019.
It is to be hereby stated that, during the month of May, the National Accountability Bureau has cleared the PML-N president of any wrongdoing in the scandal. Subsequently, in Oct, an accountability court had acquitted Kamran Kiyani — brother of former army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani — and Nadeem Zia of Paragon City in the reference.