LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD: A day after violent clashes erupted between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and law enforcers on arrival of former premier Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, the police on Saturday registered at least 12 FIRs against the PML-N top leaders, including the party chief Shehbaz Sharif.
These FIRs, filed at various police stations of Punjab’s provincial capital, were registered on charges of terrorism, attempt to murder, interference in government matters, and violation of Section 144.
At least sixteen police (16) officials were injured on Friday in clashes with rallies held by PML-N supporters who came out on the streets in large number to welcome Sharif and his daughter, Maryam, who were convicted by an accountability court on July 6 while they were visiting Sharif’s ailing wife in London.
Sharif and Maryam were taken into custody outside their plane that arrived at around 8:50 on Friday night, almost two hours after its scheduled time and were flown to Islamabad from where they were shifted to Adiala Jail.
On Friday night, Islamabad’s chief commissioner issued a notification saying Sharif and Maryam would be kept in Sihala Police Training College Rest House Islamabad which was declared a sub-jail.
Later, the commissioner withdrew this notification and said Sharif would be kept in Adiala but Maryam would be sent to the rest house. However, in pre-dawn hours of Saturday, the commissioner office issued a third notification saying that both Nawaz and Maryam will remain at Adiala.
“The city administration should have decided beforehand where to keep the convicts. The way the district machinery in Islamabad handled the situation shows that they lack the professionalism and capacity to deal with tough situations,” said a retired civil servant with talking The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, in an FIR – registered at Lohari Gate Police station under charges of terrorism, attempt to murder and rioting – the PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif as well as top PML-N leaders including Mushahid Hussain Syed, Raja Zafarul Haq, Javed Hashmi, and Talal Chaudhry have been nominated.
Other leaders nominated in the FIR include Hamza Shehbaz, Saira Afzal Tarar, Uzma Bukhari, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Kamran Michael, Bilal Yaseen, Ghazali Saleem Butt, and Waheed Alam Khan.
The PML-N rally started from Lohari Gate and was led by former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif. Interestingly, it was the only PML-N rally which apparently did not clash with police. Another FIR, registered in Shahdara Town, booked Rana Tanveer, Khurram Dastgir and other PML-N leaders, activists.
On Friday, a clash between PML-N workers and police took place at Ravi Bridge. The police had blocked the bridge by placing shipping containers on it. The PML-N workers removed the containers with cranes and pelted stones at the police, who used tear gas and batons to stop the marchers.
During these clashes, seven police officers were injured.
Another FIR was registered against Saiful Malook Khokhar and others in Nawab Town Police station. Saif had led a rally from Khokhar Palace in Johar Town and confronted police in Nawab Town.
An FIR against PML-N Lahore President Pervaiz Malik, his wife Shaista, candidate Mian Aslam, and others was registered at Township police station.
The fiercest fighting between a PML-N rally and police had occurred at Joray Pull. In the conflict, which continued for over two hours, several policemen including a DSP and two Rangers officials were injured.
This rally was led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi, former speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Salman Rafique, and other PML-N leaders. An FIR with regard to the incident was registered at North Cantonment police station.
Another FIR against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, Mian Shujaur Rehman, Pervaiz Malik and others was registered at the Civil Lines police station.
DIG Operations Shahzad Akbar claimed that during these clashes the PML-N workers and leaders brutally tortured police officials and damaged public and government property. He said over 20 police officials were injured.
Only terrorist are tried in jail: Shehbaz
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Shehbaz condemned the registration of an FIR against senior leaders of his party for taking out ‘a peaceful rally to welcome PML-N leader’.
“In reality, it was the police that showed highhandedness and assaulted peaceful workers of the PML-N who were merely taking out a rally to welcome their party leader,” he said. He also criticised media for not televising the PML-N rally and giving its due space.
Criticising the decision to hold Sharif’s further trial in jail, Shehbaz said only terrorists are tried in jails, adding that it was a mockery of justice. “Even in late 90’s, when facing the hijacking case, we were tried in open court and not in a jail. What is the interim government trying to prove with such decisions.”
To a question about the PML-N rallies failure to reach Lahore airport, Shehbaz claimed that it was due to the rallies huge size that they could not reach the airport despite a delay in the flighty.
“Despite the news that Nawaz has been arrested, the participants still wanted to march towards the airport. However, finally, at 12:15am I had to call off the procession,” he said. Interestingly, when the plane carrying Sharifs landed in Lahore, the rally was at Mall Road, a long way from the airport.
Shehbaz, others meet Sharifs in Adiala Jail
Shehbaz and other members of the Sharif family also visited Adiala Jail to visit Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam. The PML-N chief was accompanied by his mother, Shamim Begum, and two sons, Hamza Shehbaz and Salman Shehbaz.
Maryam’s son-in-law Raheel Munir and daughter Mehrun Nisa also visited Adiala to meet Maryam and her husband, Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, who was also convicted in Avenfield apartment case.
Sources said Shehbaz and Sharif discussed the appeal they are going to file in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the accountability court’s July 6 verdict. The appeal was to be filed on Saturday but some legal requirements were to be fulfilled which caused delay. It will now be filed on Monday.
Sources said Sharif wants the appeal to be filed ‘without any haste’ and has asked Shehbaz to coordinate with Khawaja Haris (his counsel) and Amjad Pervaiz (Maryam and Safdar’s counsel).
Sources denied media reports that Sharif and his daughter were denied better class (B-class) in jail. There were also reports that Sharif was granted B-class but Maryam refused to accept this facility.
“There were media reports saying Sharif and his daughter have been given air conditioning facilities in Adiala in B-class. There is no such provision to allow air conditioning to any prisoner,” said a well-placed source.
He said inmates entitled to the B-class facility in a prison can get a bed, mattress, television, refrigerator, newspapers and an attached washroom in addition to a ceiling fan. They are also entitled to a helper, but the inmate has to pay for all these facilities.
Under the existing jail rules in Punjab, an inmate can be assigned either of the two classes; B-class or ordinary class. The rules have been amended to abolish the previous system of A, B and C classes for inmates. Inmates allotted A-class used to have access to air conditioners in the past.
“In the existing jail arrangement, no one, whether a former prime minister or any other VVIP, is entitled to facilities like air conditioners, mobile phones or the internet. However, if you ‘spend a few extra bucks on the right people’ then everything becomes possible in our jails,” said a government official.
He said Sharif and Safdar are entitled to B-class facilities in their capacities as former parliamentarians and Maryam can get B-class after receiving her tax receipts to prove that she is a taxpayer having paid taxes not less than Rs600,000.