LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted pre-arrest bail to National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif a day after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team who raided his Model Town residence to arrest him in cases related to money laundering and assets beyond means returned “empty-handed”. According to the court record, Sharif’s legal team had filed the pre-arrest bail petition on June 1, a day before he was required to appear before a combined investigation team of the anti-graft agency. However, the bail petition could not be fixed for hearing before the bench on Monday. Shehbaz refused to appear before the agency for a third consecutive time on Monday, citing health concerns. In his written response submitted to the bureau, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president said: “It has been widely reported in the media that some NAB officials have tested positive for Covid-19.” “Please appreciate [that] I am a cancer survivor and 69 years old. I have been advised limited exposure on account of the peculiar background of low immunity,” he said, adding that he was available to answer any queries by the investigation team via Skype. However, while outrightly refusing to entertain his request, the bureau obtained an arrest warrant from its chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal. After Sharif did not appear for the hearing, a team of officials from the watchdog with a heavy contingent of police raided Sharif’s residence in Lahore’s Model Town to arrest him, only to learn that he was not present there. If Sharif is arrested by the NAB before the hearing, the bail petition would stand infructuous.
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