Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistani opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was jailed on Saturday for 10 days after being arrested in a corruption case.

His lawyer said, that the development meant that Sharif would not be able to campaign for his party ahead of crucial by-elections on Oct. 14.

The by-elections are for 11 parliamentary seats and 19 provincial assembly seats.

Sharif is the younger brother of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in prison by an anti-corruption court after the Supreme Court removed him from power.

Friday arrest of Sharif by agents of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Lahore involved corruption in a low-cost housing scheme when Sharif was Chief Minister of Punjab province.

A NAB court on Saturday heard charges that Sharif, in 2014, illegally cancelled a contract with a construction company and sought to award it to another company for a bribe.

However, Sharif’s counsel, Azam Nazir Tarar said his client was remanded in custody for 10 days to be interrogated.

Hundreds of activists from Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz gathered outside the court, chanting pro-Sharif slogans as police and army Rangers guarded the venue.

Sharif denies any wrongdoing and his brother has denounced corruption cases against him and other party leaders as politically motivated.

Tarar said that Sharif was improperly arrested on a warrant that was kept secret.

Sharif went to the court for questioning in another corruption case involving a water purification scheme but instead was arrested on the housing project warrant.

“They cannot arrest the leader of the opposition in this manner,’’ the lawyer said.

Sharif was arrested 10 days before the July 25, general election won by cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan, leading the new government.

He was released from prison in September pending an appeal.

The Sharifs’ Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came second in the general election.

PML-N denounced the polls as rigged, alleging that the military and courts tipped the scale in favour of Khan’s party, a charge the army and judiciary denied.

PML-N also said that the arrest of Sharif was intended to weaken the party before by-elections to be held on Oct. 14.

The voting could affect the slim majority Khan’s coalition government holds in parliament, though many of the constituencies are considered strongholds of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The contests are considered to be closer in the provincial assemblies and could result in the PML-N winning back control of Punjab.

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