Shehbaz Sharif terms arrest of PML-N workers pre-poll rigging

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif 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.

“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.

Addressing a rally on Lahore’s Bhatta Chowk late Thursday, Shehbaz said that those arresting their workers would be in jails on July 26 — a day after the general election in the country.
“Nawaz Sharif is coming to save the country,” he said, urging the masses to set out of their homes to welcome the former premier.

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.

Nawaz and Maryam are expected to leave London today evening and land in Lahore around 6:00pm on Friday (July 13).

Ahead of party supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz’s return to the country, over 100 PML-N local leaders and workers were detained in a “midnight operation” late Wednesday.
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.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arranged two helicopters for Nawaz and Maryam’s arrests upon their return.
The NAB plans to position one helicopter at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport and the other at the New Islamabad International Airport to take the two PML-N leaders into custody immediately after they land.
Further, containers have been placed at Mall Road in an expected bid to seal major routes leading to the airport in order to thwart political rallies on Friday.

Welcoming Nawaz our constitutional right: Shehbaz

Earlier today, Shehbaz asserted that receiving party supremo Nawaz Sharif is their constitutional right.

“We are not afraid of jails and shackles and a warm welcome for our party supremo is our legal and constitutional right,” Shehbaz said while speaking to media.
“I will go to the airport along with party workers to receive Nawaz on July 13,” the former Punjab chief minister vowed.
Shehbaz assured that party workers will not ‘damage’ official property during Nawaz’s welcome rally.
“We will welcome him in a peaceful manner,” he maintained.
Regarding the arrests of more than a hundred local leaders and workers of PML-N in a “midnight operation”, Shehbaz said, “The arrests are raising questions regarding the transparency of the upcoming polls.”
“Free and fair elections are the need of the hour and all parties must be allowed to campaign freely,” he stated.
Urging the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of the arrests, the PML-N president said, “Police also wants to arrest Hanif Abbasi.”
“As party president, I will not stay quiet on the matter of the arrests of workers and local leaders,” Shehbaz maintained.