LAHORE  -    After securing two-day interim relief, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz Sharif will appear before the Lahore High Court  on Monday  (today) to seek bail before arrest.

A top judge of the Lahore High Court barred National Accountability Bureau from arresting the PML-N leader on Saturday. In a short order, the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court granted interim protective bail to Hamza so that he would be able to approach the concerned bench for the hearing of a bail plea that was filed on April 4.

Senior lawyer Amjad Pervez appeared before the court on behalf of Hamza and argued that the petitioner had filed a request for interim bail and if he is arrested, he will lose his Constitutional right to appear before the court to secure bail.

After hearing the arguments, Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmed summoned record of the appeal filed for interim bail and then barred NAB from arresting Hamza. A Punjab government official on Sunday told The Nation that heavy police contingents including anti-riot units would be deployed around the court premises to keep the situation under control.

“Local police are also directed to assist NAB authorities in performing official procedures,” the official said, requesting his name not be mentioned.

He said that the PML-N workers would not be allowed to enter the court premises.

On Saturday afternoon, a NAB team suspended the operation and left the Model Town residence of Shehbaz Sharif without arresting his son Hamza Shehbaz Sharif after several hours long standoff. According to a NAB spokesman, the raiding team was called back after the Lahore high court granted interim relief to the accused.

The high-drama that started on Friday morning ended outside the house (96-H Model Town) on Saturday afternoon when a top judge granted interim relief to Hamza until Monday. Also, NAB on Saturday filed a petition before an Accountability Court in Lahore and sought permission to enter the house of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif to arrest his son Hamza. But the petition was dismissed. The counsel of the PML-N leader said that the accountability court had “dismissed” the petition and refused to give NAB and police permission to raid the house.

A 10-member team of the Lahore NAB reached Model Town on Saturday at 10:30am to arrest Hamza but left back empty handed at 4:30pm. Saturday’s raid was the second attempt in 24 hours to arrest the PML-N leader, who is accused of money-laundering and having assets beyond means.

A NAB team remained present outside the residence of former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for several hours.

The NAB officials were seen busy on their mobile phones throughout the day as dozens of PML-N workers staged a sit-in protest at the main gate to stop officials from entering the house. The party workers also chanted full-throat slogans in favour of their leaders.

Hamza’s supporters also clashed with anti-riot police outside his residence. The police also baton charged the protesters when they tried to overpower some policemen. However, no arrest was made despite the standoff that lasted for more than five hours.

Meanwhile, City police registered a criminal case against the bodyguards of Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz Sharif for attacking the raiding team of the anti-corruption watchdog.

The FIR was lodged (under section 353/186, 427, 506/B, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal code) on the complaint of Mumtaz Hussain, a driver of the Lahore NAB. The names of the guards were not mentioned in the FIR.

According to the complainant, the personal security guards of the PML-N leader held up the raiding team at gunpoint and hurled life threats at them as they reached 96-H Model Town to arrest the accused. The police were investigating the incident with no arrest made so far.

On the other hand, the PML-N rejected the NAB claims stating that nobody attacked the raiding team.

The NAB officials were offered tea by the guards. The security guards politely informed the raiding party that they could not enter the house without warrants.  In a Press statement, the PML-N said that the NAB team barged into a private premises, misbehaved with the guards at the gate while jumping over the walls of the house. 

The officials violated the sanctity of privacy of individuals enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

“It was extremely sad that NAB resorted to such tactics especially when every leader of PML-N including National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz, had not only been following the orders of the bureau but they had also been cooperating fully with NAB regarding every investigation.”

The PML-N also filed an application with the local police for registration of a criminal case against NAB officials. However, no case was registered against Lahore NAB officials till filing of this report.