ISLAMABAD - The National Accountability Bureau Lahore had recommended to the headquarters to close the 19-year-old case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif related to the expansion of a road in Raiwind, as there were weak grounds to pursue the alleged scam, the bureau chief declined the advice and ordered a probe into the case from “all aspects”, sources said.

After NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal rebuffed the recommendation, the NAB Lahore summoned the ousted prime minister in the same case on April 21.

Well-placed NAB sources told The Nation that the NAB Lahore executive board took up the road expansion case two months back and after a threadbare discussion, it had recommended to the headquarters to close down the investigation as there were no strong grounds to pursue the alleged case, but the NAB chief denied the plea and issued directives to investigate it from all angles, the sources said.

On Friday, NAB Lahore Bureau issued the summons to the ousted prime minister and directed him to appear before the bureau investigation team next Saturday and explain about the alleged misuse of authority, during his second tenure as the prime minister, in 1999.

According to the NAB order, “Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif have been found guilty of constructing a road leading to their home Jatti Umra at government's expense”. It further said that “on the directives of Nawaz Sharif, the road was widened which increased the construction cost of the project”.

A senior NAB official expressed his astonishment over the anti-graft body’s move to summon Sharif despite the fact that the Lahore bureau had suggested to close down the case as it had failed to collect enough evidence to pursue the case.

He said that the bureau had wrapped up a “much stronger” case against Sharif related to the illegal appointments in the Federal Investigation Agency in his second term as the prime minister and “there is more to it (the summons) than meets the eye”. He said that it was a fact that both the cases were “politically-motivated” and were filed against the Sharifs by former dictator Pervez Musharraf.

When contacted, NAB spokesperson Nawazish Ali said that he was unaware of the development. He said that the NAB chairman “takes all decisions in consultation with executive board members”.

On December 27, 2017, the NAB had given a “clean chit” to Sharif in the case related to illegal appointments of 30 officials in the FIA by allegedly misusing the authority in 1999. That case against Sharif had been pending with the NAB since December 18, 1999.