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.”


Motion filed by top parliament official to impeach Somali president

Updated 2 min 10 sec ago
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Motion filed by top parliament official to impeach Somali president

MOGADISHU: The top official of Somali's parliament administration said on Sunday he had filed a motion with the speaker of parliament to impeach the country's president, Mohamed Abdullahi.
"We have filed an impeachment against the president of the federal republic of Somalia," Abdikarim H. Abdi Buh said in a statement.
Constitutionally, 92 lawmakers have to sign such a motion for it to be submitted to the speaker. Parliament may debate the motion a week later.
Somalia's parliament has 275 lawmakers in total. A successful impeachment vote requires the backing of two thirds of all MPs.
A copy of the motion, seen by Reuters, lists as grounds for the impeachment an allegation that the president secretly signed agreements with other countries including Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The agreements touched on the use of Somali ports and economic and security cooperation, it said.
He was also accused of illegally extraditing alleged criminals to other countries and violating Somalia's federalism law and the rules and regulations of parliament.
Officials at the president's office could not be reached for comment.