ISLAMABAD                  -               The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi yesterday arrested PML-N senior leader and Member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal Sports Complex corruption case from the Bureau premises.

NAB investigation team had summoned the former interior minister for recording his statement in Narowal Sports Complex case.

A NAB spokesperson confirming arrest of PML-N leader in a short statement said, “NAB Rawalpindi arrested MNA Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal Sports Complex scandal. The NAB also called doctors team for medical examination. The accused will be produced before accountability court for physical remand tomorrow (Tuesday).”

He further said, “NAB Rawalpindi will present grounds of arrest of Ahsan Iqbal tomorrow before accountability court Islamabad for remanding him into NAB custody.” He asked the media to avoid speculations in this regard. He said NAB had also informed National Assembly speaker about arrest of MNA Ahsan.”

In 2018, NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal had ordered NAB Rawalpindi to initiate inquiry into alleged misappropriation of government funds in construction of the Narowal Sports City against Ahsan Iqbal .

Last week, NAB’s Rawalpindi team along with Pakistan Works and Development officials had inspected the Narowal Sports City and collected record from the local administration in this case and also recorded statements of contractors.

NAB investigation team asked questions about the project cost and why the previous government had chosen only Narowal for this project during his first appearance in this case. He had appeared before NAB probe team thrice but he could not give satisfactory replies to probe team questions related to Narowal Sports Complex case during investigation, NAB official claimed.

In October last, NAB had also sought bank accounts details of Ahsan Iqbal , his wife and family members from State Bank of Pakistan.

According to the PSDP 2018-19 report, cost of the project was Rs2.9 billion and Rs2.5 billion had already been spent. The funds allocated were spent through the Sports Board of Pakistan (PSB) and the Ministry of Sports had been devolved after the 18th Constitutional Amendment and it was a provincial subject. The complainant raised the question that there was no need to build this mega project near the Indian border and in a small city of Narowal.

Talking to media before appearing in NAB yesterday, Ahsan Iqbal said, the project was started after the approval of Cabinet, Parliament and Economic Council. He said NAB took notice of the project after completion of 85 percent of its work. He, responding to NAB allegations, said sports city was not located in India or Israel and asked why Kakol Academy was not attached with GHQ.

Ahsan said, “His ministry, had approved several projects worth Rs 2,300 billion. “I challenge everyone to provide me evidence of corruption in a project. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan should not be allowed to use the NAB for political victimisation. He said after the refusal of Federal Investigation Agency, government was using the NAB against opposition.

He said NAB should stop all activities till completion of investigation into BRT Peshawar case. He claimed that NAB had closed all cases of Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf and only focused on fake cases against PML-N.

Later, talking to media, PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb declared arrest of Ahsan Iqbal as a result of NAB-Niazi (Imran Khan) nexus. She said Ahsan Iqbal was the person who played key role in making China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project successful. She said they should be ashamed of arresting a man who had an operation three days ago. She said Narowal Sports Complex was initiated in the Pakistan People’s Party tenure and was facing several irregularities, however, PML-N revisited the project and Ahsan Iqbal played a vital role in its renovation in PNL-N tenure. PML-N will continue calling out the incompetence of the incumbent government under the ruling PTI, she added.

She said, “Ahsan Iqbal was conveyed through different channels to stop exposing incompetence of selected government, otherwise, he should be ready to face the music.”

Marriyum critised the role of NAB and said it had failed to take action in BRT corruption and tried to hide behind court stay in this case. But it is always busy to approach apex court against Maryam Nawaz, Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz and other PML-N leadership had bailed in different cases. She said incumbent government was using the institutions for political victimisation.

She revealed that Iqbal had undergone surgery just three days ago and the surgery was related to the incident last year in May, where an assailant had shot at the then minister in his own constituency.

ARREST POLITICAL VICTIMIZATION: SHEHBAZ

NNI adds: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the arrest of Ahsan Iqbal and declared it a proof of NAB-Niazi nexus.

Shehbaz said the arrest of someone, who strengthened the friendship of China and Pakistan, and worked for the CPEC, is condemnable and tragic. “The apprehension of Ahsan Iqbal is aimed at saving government’s incompetence from being exposed to the public,” he added.

He said Ahsan Iqbal was performing political activities to reorganize the party and highlight the problems of the people across the country. “The arrest is one of the worst instances of political retaliation,” he maintained.

The PML-N president asserted that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has gone blind in political vendetta. He said the incumbent government is not sending a good message by detaining those who served the people of the Pakistan with honesty, hard work and patriotism.

Shehbaz said every soldier, activist and worker of PML-N would not get afraid of NAB-Niazi nexus and will keep standing beside the truth. He further added they will keep exposing hostile policies of the current government.

Shehbaz alleged NAB took the PML-N leader into custody at the behest of the prime minister and termed the detention political victimization.