LAHORE: More than a hundred local leaders and workers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were detained in a “midnight operation” late Wednesday ahead of party supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz’s return to the country on Friday.
Several UC chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors are among those arrested from various areas of Lahore.
Following the arrests, a large number of PML-N workers protested outside police stations and key party leaders — Saad Rafique, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Pervaiz Malik — held an emergency press conference at 3:30am.
Slamming the arrests of party workers, former railways minister Rafique said, “There can be a reaction to this taunting but we do not want things to get out of hand and the upcoming polls to become controversial.”
“Our workers wish to go to Lahore airport in a peaceful manner to welcome the party supremo who is scheduled to return to Lahore tomorrow (July 13), however, all of a sudden arrests are being made” he added.
Rafique claimed, “Over 100 of our leaders and workers have already been arrested and orders have been given for the detention of 300 others.”
Demanding the interim Punjab government and the caretaker prime minister to “immediately release arrested workers”, the former railways minister said his party would announce its next plan of action should the arrested workers not be released by noon today (Thursday).
Implementation on Nawaz, Maryam’s arrest warrants to be ensured: Chairman NAB
Chairman National Accountability Bureau Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has said that the implementation on the arrest warrants of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam should be ensured.
Action will be taken against those who try to create hurdles, added the chairman of the probe authority.
Earlier sources informed Newsone that the NAB has arranged two helicopters for shifting former premier Nawaz and his daughter to Islamabad, after arresting them upon arrival in country.
If you have courage, arrest me: Ayaz Sadiq
Further, former National Assembly speaker Sadiq held the interim Punjab chief minister responsible for the surprise detentions.
“If you have courage, I dare you to arrest me,” the former NA speaker said while addressing the presser.
“We will complete the mission of going to Lahore airport to receive Nawaz,” Sadiq vowed.
Shehbaz blames the Interim Setup
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday slammed the caretaker government set-up following arrests of more than 100 workers from Lahore ahead of party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s return.
“Arrests of workers is naked pre-poll rigging,” Shehbaz said as he addressed the media in Lahore alongside former railways minister Saad Rafique and former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.
“Everyone is involved in this blatant rigging from the caretaker Punjab chief minister to the caretaker interior minister and police officials,” the PML-N president asserted.
“The whole world knows PML-N is being targetted,” he added.
Doors of workers’ houses were broken down and they were arrested last night, the former Punjab chief minister shared while adding that around 300 workers were also arrested from Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
“No logic can defend the 30-day detention of our workers,” Shehbaz upheld.
Demanding that workers be released immediately, the former Punjab chief minister said, “Our protest will be peaceful.”
Urging the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice, the PML-N president said, “By the time our workers are released polls will be over.”
The former Punjab chief minister further vowed that he and his party workers will go to receive former premier Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airport tomorrow “come what may”.
Shehbaz also warned police officials against arresting his workers. “Know that time never remains the same and after we win the polls, we will hold you accountable on July 26,” he said.
Further, the Punjab chief minister appealed to the nation to help build Pakistan and not destroy it.
“How can you allow Imran Khan to rule with his flawed policies?” he asked.
Requesting the nation to come out in Nawaz’s support, Shehbaz said, “Mian Sb is coming back for the people and for the betterment of Pakistan.”
Lamenting that the party is not being allowed to campaign and is “being pushed into a corner”, Shehbaz said, “No one complain to me later if we are not given a level playing field.”
“Section 144 has been imposed for us while Imran Khan has been permitted to hold a rally today,” he further said.
“You can do all the rigging you want, we will still win the July 25 polls,” he upheld.
One again, appealing that the ‘injustice’ and arrests of workers be stopped, Shehbaz urged the caretaker government set-up, “Please pause, reflect and change the course.”
“The administration and police should stop injustices as we will not be intimidated,” he said.
“The caretaker set-up is a salaried puppet,” Shehbaz added.
Further, the PML-N president said the verdict in the Avenfield reference was ‘unjust’.
“Judge’s verdict stated that there was no proof of corruption against Nawaz,” he said while adding that he was sentenced based on presumptions.
Shehbaz also said that rumours are being spread claiming that Nawaz’s flight has been cancelled.
“There is no truth in these rumours and Nawaz and Maryam are coming to Pakistan tomorrow,” he upheld.
The presser came after PML-N’s top leadership met to discuss the plan of action following the arrests and arrangements for Nawaz’s return.