–PML-N VP claims anti-corruption body wanted to harm her
–Sources say NAB will summon Maryam again next week
LAHORE: Following a clash between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers and police officials outside the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) Lahore office over PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s appearance, the former premier’s daughter said that what happened earlier in the day was a moment of concern for the government.
The PML-N VP was personally summoned by the NAB on Tuesday in a 180-acre land purchase case but her appearance was postponed after a clash ensued between the party workers and the police. However, according to the sources in NAB, she is likely to be sent a recall notice next week.
A large number of PML-N workers showed up at their leader’ appearance before the anti-graft body. The police had set up barricades alongside other security measures outside NAB office, but suddenly a clash took place between the police and the PML-N workers with both sides pelting stones at each other. Reportedly, PML-N workers and the police clashed after the former attacked the security officials with stones upon the arrival of their leader. In response, the police started firing into the air to disperse the crowd. Several protestors were also arrested, reports suggest.
Television footage revealed men in plain clothes pelting stones at the police, who were also seen attacking some PML-N workers with batons, water cannons and tear gas. Numerous television channels also displayed footage and photographs of cars, purportedly part of the PML-N caravan, loaded with bags full of stones.
Meanwhile, the front screen of Maryam’s car broke, and she said, “Police threw stones at my car breaking its windscreen. I came here [to the NAB office] to cooperate with you. Now, why did you summon me if you were so scared [of me]? Muster courage to listen to me.”
Addressing reporters, Maryam said that she would not leave without getting her statement recorded and that NAB should not have summoned her if they did not have the courage to listen to her replies. “If you do not have the courage, you should have thought it through before calling me here. After calling me, you turn to shelling and pelting stones on innocent PML-N workers. If I did not have a bullet proof car, think of how much damage would have been caused.”
Later, she left after NAB revealed in a press release that her hearing had been postponed.
PML-N CRITICISES NAB, POLICE:
Responding to the incident, the party’s central spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb censured the bureau and police, saying the authorities cannot shatter the courage of party workers by torturing them. According to a PML-N spokesperson, at least 50 workers were arrested by police during the incident.
Maryam condemned police brutality against PML-N party workers in a tweet saying, “I strongly condemn police shelling, use of tear gas and lathi charge on peaceful party workers who came to show solidarity with me”.
She also shared pictures of party workers who were injured in the clash.
PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah accused police of thrashing party workers and throwing “chemical water” at them.
Later, addressing a press conference after the incident, Maryam said that “state terrorism” and repression were displayed in front of NAB office and unarmed workers were tortured. “Today, state terrorism was demonstrated, peaceful and unarmed workers were pelted with stones, tear gas and stones were hurled at the workers. I received the call up letter from NAB the day before yesterday. It was said that I may have bought some land. No allegation was made against me in the call up letter.”
Maryam said that the purpose behind summoning her was to harm her. “If I had not been in a bulletproof vehicle, I would have been hit by stones. People in police uniforms threw stones at me. I could have been hit in the head by a stone. I received messages to go back and I was told to go back. NAB did not open the door and remained in hiding. When they called, they should take answers from me.”
NAB also issued a statement after the incident, saying that Maryam had been summoned in a ‘personal capacity’ to record her statement but instead of coming alone, “she displayed hooliganism in an organised manner through PML-N workers by pelting stones and creating disorder”.
“Such an attitude has been seen against a constitutional and national institution for the first time in 20 years in which not only windows of the building were broken by throwing stones, but employees were also injured,” the statement read.
NAB said that it was “immediately suspending Maryam’s appearance”, and that it “strongly condemned that PML-N workers and various miscreants had tried to interfere in legal proceedings in an organised manner”.
The anti-graft body stated that under NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal’s instructions, it has been decided that a First Information Report (FIR) will be filed against PML-N leaders and workers for “interfering with the state’s work”.
“NAB is a national institution and it is only affiliated with the country and the people. NAB does not have connections with any political party or group and all its activities are conducted according to the Constitution and the law,” the statement added.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also took immediate notice of the commotion outside the NAB office and demanded a report of the incident from the Punjab chief secretary and inspector general of police (IGP).
Buzdar, while ordering action against those responsible for rioting outside NAB office, said that no one can be allowed to take the law into their hands, legal action should be taken against those who take the law into their hands. “Rule of law will be ensured. The law would be enacted against the rioters,” he said.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted in favour of Maryam, criticising the “use of force” against her and PML-N party workers.
“Condemn the unnecessary use of force, teargas and stone pelting on Maryam Nawaz Sharif and her party workers by police in Lahore today,” he tweeted.
Pictures: Zubair Mehfooz