Road to Jati Umra: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif skips NAB hearing

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LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday did not appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, in “illegal” construction of a road leading to his residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.

Earlier, the bureau had sent the PML-N supreme leader a notice asking him to appear before its combined investigation team on April 21, but he could not appear before it as he was in London to inquire after his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz.

“The NAB had issued Nawaz Sharif a notice to appear on May 20 (Sunday) for his own convenience as he usually has to appear before an accountability court in Islamabad during working days,” a source told Dawn. He said Mr Sharif neither appeared before the NAB at Thokar Niaz Baig office nor sent his legal counsel.

In the notice to Sharif, NAB said: “Investigation has revealed that you (Nawaz Sharif) being then prime minister illegally convened a meeting on March 15, 1998 regarding construction of the road from Adda Plot to Sundar Mull by utilising funds of Zila Council Lahore for your personal benefit.”

It asked him to explain his position regarding his “illegal direction” to the authorities concerned to enhance the width of the road from 20 feet to 24 feet for his “personal benefit” which resulted in cost escalation. “It has also been revealed that you exercised the authority which was not vested with you by passing illegal directions on the project funded by the Zila Council Lahore.”

The notice further says: “Being then prime minister you misused your authority by way of initiating the project for your personal benefit in connivance with your brother Shahbaz Sharif who was then the chief minister of Punjab. Because of your illegal direction the Zila Council Lahore had to drop various other projects of public welfare at the cost of the said project in connivance with Shahbaz Sharif.”

The source further said the NAB would decide whether to issue another notice to Mr Sharif or file a reference in this case in the accountability court.

Earlier, the NAB executive board had approved the filing a reference against Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and others involved in this road project case.

Mr Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar are already facing trial in three corruption references filed against them by NAB.