PML-N: Police arrest party workers ahead of Sharif’s return to Pakistan

Supporters of the Pakistan-Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) who were arrested after holding a rally to obstruct the arrest of Mohammad Safdar, son-in-law of of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are handcuffed and escorted by police after they were appeared before district court in Rawalpindi, Pakisan on July 11, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 July 2018
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PML-N: Police arrest party workers ahead of Sharif’s return to Pakistan

  • The police are accused of violating Pakistan’s constitution, which grants freedom of assembly and expression to all citizens
  • The deputy inspector general of Lahore’s police says precautionary measures are being taken to help the Election Commission of Pakistan hold peaceful general elections

ISLAMABAD: Police in Punjab arrested hundreds of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers from various cities in the province on Thursday, said Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, the party’s central information secretary.

“Hundreds of our workers have been arrested from Lahore, Rawalpindi and other districts in a police crackdown,” he told Arab News on Thursday.

The arrests took place a day before former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were due to return from London.

They have said they will arrive in Lahore on Friday evening, a week after being sentenced to 10 and seven years in prison in a graft case, respectively.

Local party leaders have vowed to give them a grand welcome upon their arrival, and the PML-N has directed its workers to go to the airport in large numbers.

 Khan said Punjab’s caretaker government had resorted to undemocratic means to dampen the spirit of PML-N workers who wanted to receive their leaders at the airport.

“We’re peaceful people, and it’s our democratic right to welcome Nawaz Sharif and Maryam at the airport,” he said, adding that several local government representatives were arrested.

Lahore’s administration alone had passed orders to arrest more than 300 PML-N workers before the arrival of Sharif and his daughter, Khan said. 

“Local administrations across Punjab are creating hurdles for our workers to reach Lahore. This is totally unacceptable in a democracy,” he added.

The deputy inspector general of Lahore police, Shahzad Akbar, on Thursday said police were taking precautionary measures to help the Election Commission of Pakistan hold the July 25 general elections peacefully.

He added that the Home Department had provided a list of agitating political workers to officers to ensure their house arrest, and to arrest those who were guilty of violating section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits assembly of five or more people.

Sharif and his daughter have been in London since June 14 to attend to his ailing wife Kalsoom Nawaz.

Prof. Tahir Malik, a political analyst and academic, said: “People cannot be stopped from exercising their democratic right of assembly.” 

The arrest of PML-N workers will only increase public sympathy for Sharif and his daughter, Malik added, urging Punjab’s government to remain neutral.

“Its partiality will put a question mark over the credibility of elections in the province,” he said.

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, a political analyst and professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, said the police crackdown on PML-N workers will raise questions about pre-poll rigging.

“If political wrangling continues until polling day, this will put a very serious question mark on the results of the elections,” he told Arab News. 

“In any democracy, people come out on the streets to protest when their freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are curtailed.”


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.