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.