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.”


Mexican president-elect slashes his own salary

Mexican President-elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. (REUTERS)
Updated 30 min 43 sec ago
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Mexican president-elect slashes his own salary

  • Mexico ranks 135 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index, with higher numbers indicating higher levels of corruption
  • Lopez Obrador said he’d like to reduce his salary even further

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday he plans to earn less than half of what his predecessor makes when he takes office in December as part of an austerity push in government.
“What we want is for the budget to reach everybody,” he told reporters in front of his campaign headquarters.
Glancing at a piece of paper with numbers on it, Lopez Obrador said he will take home 108,000 pesos a month, which is $5,707 at current exchange rates, and that no public official will be able to earn more than the president during his six-year term. The transition team calculates that current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto makes 270,000 pesos a month.
Lopez Obrador said he’d like to reduce his salary even further, but that he doesn’t want to cause resentment among future Cabinet members who are in some cases leaving private sector positions and academic posts that pay more than the new ceiling for public officials.
He reiterated campaign promises to cut back on taxpayer funded perks for high-level government officials, such as chauffeurs, bodyguards and private medical insurance. The official presidential residence will become a cultural center and ex-presidents will no longer receive pensions, he said.
At the same time, he doubled down on pledges to stem corruption. Mexico ranks 135 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index, with higher numbers indicating higher levels of corruption.
Public officials will have to disclose their assets, he said, and corruption will be considered a serious offense.
Supporters gathered beyond the gates cheered the proposals.
“This is what we need,” said Josefina Arciniega, 57, who earns 12,000 pesos a month as an administrative assistant. “We are fed up.”
Arciniega said she’s tired of low-level public servants asking for bribes and of watching high-ranking officials living in luxury while people like her struggle to pay the bills.
Orlando Alvarado, a chemical engineer standing next to Arciniega, called Lopez Obrador’s proposed presidential salary a dignified wage.
“A lot of Mexican professionals don’t even make 6,000 pesos a month. I’m talking about accountants and doctors,” he said.