Dozen or so opposition parliamentarians and twice as many media people stormed into the Inspector General’s (IG) office to offer the arrest of Punjab Assembly Deputy Opposition Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra here on Wednesday, but the police declined to take him into custody.
The opposition had announced their plan to offer Basra for arrest a couple of days ago after Haroonabad police registered a land grabbing case against the Pakistan People’s Party MPA.
Basra and his opposition colleagues denounced the FIR as politically motivated. He said that the land he was alleged to have encroached upon had been part of his family’s house for several decades.
Basra, Opposition Leader Raja Riaz, a dozen other parliamentarians and a media scrum assembled outside IG Habeebur Rehman’s office on Wednesday and pushed their way past barricades to demand to see the head of the Punjab Police. They were told that the IG had not yet arrived.
Raja Riaz met with the additional inspector general, who told him the police did not wish to make any arrests at this time. The officer said that the case against Basra, registered under Section 447 (criminal trespass) of the Pakistan Penal Code, would be thoroughly investigated. SSP (Administration) Sohail Sukhaira told the parliamentarians that any action against Basra would be taken by Haroonabad police station, according to APP.
Addressing reporters, Basra said that the Sharif brothers were known to frame false FIRs against their political opponents. He said that the case against him was a result of his staunch opposition to the Punjab government inside the assembly. He vowed that he would not let “such cheap tactics” soften his opposition to the government.
Basra said that he had been sent death threats. He said that should he be murdered, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the IG should be held responsible.
MPA Sajida Mir of the PPP said that she would submit a privilege motion in the Punjab Assembly against the IG, as his staff had tried to stop them from entering the office. She said that MPAs had a right to visit any Punjab government office so the actions of the IG’s staff were a violation of their privilege.
Responding to comments made by the opposition leaders, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that Shaukat Basra was trying to give “political colouring” to a legal issue. He said that to term the case political victimisation was ludicrous.
He said that the PPP leaders had resorted to making baseless accusations because they sensed defeat in the forthcoming elections. “The people of Pakistan know the reasons behind their empty hue and cry full well,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.
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