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Pakistan's Former PM Abbasi Arrested On Corruption Charges


FILE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (C) leaves a court in Lahore in June 2018.
FILE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (C) leaves a court in Lahore in June 2018.

Pakistan’s anticorruption agency says it has arrested former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi amid graft allegations.

Officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) say they stopped Abbasi's vehicle in the eastern city of Lahore on July 18 and arrested him.

He had been on his way to a press conference when he was arrested.

Authorities are investigating Abbasi's role in the awarding of a contract to a liquefied natural gas company in Qatar in which Abbasi was a shareholder.

Abbasi has denied any wrongdoing.

His arrest has drawn a furious response from opposition parties that accuse the government of trying to silence its opponents.

Ahsan Iqbal, a senior lawmaker in Pakistan's parliament from Abbasi's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, said the arrest marked "yet another black day in Paksitan's history."

He described Abbasi's arrest as a "fascist act" and vowed that the voices of Pakistan's opposition will not be gagged.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the head of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), said Abbasi's arrest was part of a government "witch hunt" against elected representatives.

Abbasi's PML-N already has been locked in a political dispute with the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan came to power in 2018 accusing Abbasi and his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, of large-scale corruption and mismanagement of Pakistan's economy.

Abbasi served as prime minister for nearly a year after Sharif was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 over those corruption allegations.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam were sentenced to 10-year and seven-year terms in prison, respectively, over the purchase of luxury apartments in London during the 1990s.

Maryam was later released on bail after her sentence was suspended.

They have denied wrongdoing, with Sharif suggesting collusion between the country’s powerful military and its courts to throw him out of power.

In June, Pakistan's anticorruption agency arrested former President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption charges after a court rejected his request for an extension of his bail in a money laundering case.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and Dawn