‘Runaway’ MNA: PML-N to discipline Anjum Aqeel

Party’s disciplinary committee refuses to disclose precise nature of punishment.

Obaid Abbasi/qamar Zaman July 18, 2011

ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be a response to a public outcry, a Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) committee has recommended disciplinary action against one of its party’s members in the National Assembly, Anjum Aqeel Khan, following his brazen escape from police custody on Friday.

The committee, led by party veteran Raja Zafarul Haq, met on Sunday for the second time and decided to submit its recommendation to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. The four-member committee met on Saturday as well but had then deferred making a decision until they had heard Aqeel’s account of the situation.

The PML-N has not yet made public the precise nature of the disciplinary action, an announcement for which is expected to be made by the party chief. “We have sent the report to Nawaz Sharif and he is authorised to make the findings of the committee public,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, one of the committee members.

On Sunday, the committee asked Aqeel to submit an account of his escape and also visited the Islamabad offices of Dunya TV, a news channel, to view roughly 30 minutes of footage of the incident.

Aqeel has been accused of involvement in the Rs6 billion National Police Foundation land scam and was arrested on Friday. Yet within hours of his arrest, he was forcibly freed by as many as 30 armed men, purportedly party workers, who laid siege to Shalimar police station in Islamabad.

The parliamentarian claims he turned himself in to the police on Saturday, though the police insisted they arrested him. Police officials claim that they arrested him while he was on his way to the Islamabad Press Club to hold a news conference. Aqeel is one of Islamabad’s four representatives in the National Assembly.

PML-N sources told The Express Tribune that Aqeel had “denied any role in his own escape.”

“But he did not have any answer when asked why it took him 24 hours to surrender,” they added.

Earlier in the day, Aqeel was presented before Judicial Magistrate Kashif Qayyum amid tight security. He was sent to a one-day transit remand.

Aqeel’s lawyer, Inam Minhas, requested a medical exam for his client, an application that was accepted by the court. Aqeel was then taken to the state-run Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital in Islamabad for a medical examination. The lawmaker is expected to be presented before an anti-terrorism court on Monday (today).

Aqeel’s arrest on charges of corruption, and later brazen attempt at escape, have embarrassed the PML-N, which had hitherto been campaigning against what it claims is the incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) “highly corrupt record in office”.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2011.


Sameer Ahmed | 10 years ago | Reply

The recent drama staged by the PML-N workers to snatch away their party’s MNA from police custody has brought more disgrace to the friendly opposition and another blow to the integrity of the PML-N. The party has faced embarrassment again and again due to the careless behaviour of its MPAs and MNAs. The friendly opposition is earning notoriety after failing to fulfil the expectations of the voters and slumbering for more than three years. Instead of fleeing, the parliamentarian should have opted to face the law. If he was innocent, nobody would have sent him to jail. An independent judiciary is there to protect the innocent. If our elected MNAs go to that extent for their personal gains that police is forced to arrest them, what good can we expect from them for the electorate? The party leadership and his co-workers should deal with such elements with an iron hand. Otherwise, they may face problems in the next elections. Party discipline and the manifesto must be taught to all members of the party with the instructions to abide by the law diligently.

Nayla Mushtaq | 10 years ago | Reply Fridays assault in Islamabad on police and FIA officials to free a member of the National Assembly sets a dangerous precedent. Mr Anjum Aqeel Khan, an MNA from Islamabad belong-ing to the PML-N, was snatched from the law enforcers by armed goons only an hour after he was arrested in a 2010 case. He surrendered himself on Saturday evening on the partys instructions. News stories about the incident implicitly brought out the point that the law-enforcement personnel had invited trouble by holding him captive in his electoral constituency. This amounts to saying that the MNA enjoyed immunity from the law on the land that he had grabbed on the strength of his votes. It is almost as if Pakistani law was an alien that had strayed into a territory with its own rules. Sadly, the manner in which Mr Khan was rescued is proof that these impressions were not without basis. This case apart, it is not altogether unusual for a politician to be found embroiled in a land-grabbing scandal in Pakistan. There exists a whole class of influential politicians with questionable land transactions behind them. Islamabad, where land is at a premium, is abuzz with stories of a few powerful estate barons-cum-politicians fighting for the spoils amongst themselves. This is surely not a good advertisement for political parties. It is worse when a political party tries to label the news coverage of an incident as blatant as the attack on law officers to free Mr Khan as some kind of a conspiracy. If PML-N chief Mr Nawaz Sharif took six hours to speak on the incident, his junior colleagues, such as Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, in typical style blamed the federal government for blowing the incident out of proportion. Mr Sanaullah joined some politicians from his party in questioning news reports which had identified Mr Khan`s rescuers as PML-N members. It is a difficult distinction to make when business and politics are so intrinsically mixed and when it falls upon a political leader and a political party to urge an absconder to surrender.
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