Lahore, October 8: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Monday decided to protest inside Parliament against the arrest of party president and Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif on charges of corruption, as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif resumed his political activities, nearly three weeks after his release from jail.
The decision to launch protests inside Parliament was taken during a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the PML-N chaired by Nawaz Sharif, the elder brother of Shahbaz, who is accused of corruption in a Rs 1,400 crore housing scam. The meeting, held in Model Town, Lahore, was attended by the party's CEC members, Geo News reported. Shehbaz Sharif Arrested in Pakistan Over Ashiana Housing Scandal.
During the meeting, the party members decided to protest against Shehbaz's arrest last Friday and Sunday's press conference by Prime Minister Imran Khan inside Parliament. This was the first formal party meeting that Nawaz Sharif, 68, chaired since after his release from Adiala jail in Rawalpindi last month.
The former premier, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar were released from prison on September 19 after the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentences in the Avenfield corruption case.
The Islamabad High Court has suspended their sentences and granted them bail till the disposal of their appeals. Since then, Nawaz Sharif stayed away from media and political activities and the party leaders defended him by claiming that he was in a state of mourning over the death of his wife Kulsoom in London and that he would soon start his political activities, Dawn newspaper reported.
However, the PML-N leaders now claim that due to the "sudden arrest" of his 67-year-old younger brother, the three-time former premier has been forced to jump into the political arena in order to boost the morale of the party workers.
On Saturday, an accountability court granted the National Accountability Bureau a 10-day physical remand of former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
According to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, the party believed that Shahbaz was arrested as part of the policy of Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to victimise its political opponents.
"Shahbaz Sharif's arrest just before by-elections on October 14 is unacceptable," she said. "Such actions will no more be tolerated." She said that after in-house consultation and discussion, the PML-N would consult other position parties to take them into confidence as well.
The opposition members also urged the Speaker to issue production orders for Shahbaz Sharif under rules to enable him to attend the National Assembly session.
Dawn also reported that PML-N leaders were also in touch with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and were hopeful of getting a positive response. Only last week, the two parties had announced their decision to field joint candidates in the October 14 by-elections.
During an informal chat with reporters on Saturday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had said the procedure adopted for the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif, the Opposition leader was improper, adding that it appeared prima facie that the law had not been followed in the matter. Bhutto said his party had no issues with accountability, but there must be no political victimisation in the name of accountability.