The Punjab government on Tuesday compared the PML-N’s activists’ attack on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office in Lahore earlier in the day to how an unruly mob of the party’s office-bearers and workers had stormed into the Supreme Court building in 1997.
“The PML-N has repeated its history of attacking a national institution,” Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said at a press conference accompanied by Information Minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan.
“The PML-N is mistaken if it believes that it will be able to pressure institutions in this manner,” he added.
The anti-graft watchdog was unable to record the statement of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz in an “illegal” land requisition case as a clash broke out between her party activists and police outside NAB office in Lahore when she arrived there.
The minister said Maryam was summoned by NAB in a personal capacity but she turned up at its office with a rally. “This shows that the PML-N doesn't respect institutions and can go to any extent to intimidate them.”
Basharat maintained that the government took the steps needed to establish its writ following the clash. He added that those who had pelted stones at police and the NAB office would be booked.
The minister also claimed that bags of stones were brought to the NAB office in Maryam's security vehicles and handed over to party activists to attack police and the anti-graft body’s office.
“There is evidence that some of the cars carrying bags of stones had fake number plates,” he said, adding that vehicles were in front of Maryam's car.
“The excise department is verifying these vehicles and cases would be registered against their owners using fake plates.”
The provincial law minister said Maryam had misused the concession of bail granted to her by courts by attacking a national institution.
Basharat also refuted the PML-N leader’s claim that she was summoned to the NAB office cause her harm. “You [Maryam] were summoned to answer for your past misdeeds.”
The minister said the violence could have been avoided if the PML-N leader had reached the NAB office alone or with a few activists.
Earlier while addressing the media flanked by party leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb, Maryam said NAB had summoned her through a "vague" notice that did not contain any allegations against her and the anti-corruption body’s real intention was to cause her harm.
“I surely would have suffered a head injury if the car wasn’t bulletproof,” she maintained.
“When my car approached the NAB office, I didn’t know that there was a sea of people there as I couldn’t see from the vehicle,” she added.
The PML-N leader said the people around her car dispersed when the tear gas shelling began. “My car was then pelted with stones from the barricades in front of the NAB office.”
Maryam added that party leader Pervez Rashid, who was with her in the car, told her to be thankful that she was in a bulletproof car when the windscreen smashed otherwise the brick-like stones that were being thrown would have hit her head because she was sitting in the front seat.
“What am I supposed to make of this?” she said.
The PML-N leader claimed that “original” call-up notice issued to her contained no details of the allegations against her against the information provided by NAB to the media about it.
Maryam said she had been advised to acquire a pre-arrest bail to prevent NAB from using its "black tactics" against her but she had decided against it.
She pointed out that the Supreme Court in its verdict in the Paragon Housing Society corruption case and the Human Rights Watch in its recent report had both raised questions about NAB’s impartiality.
The PML-N leader also claimed that the reason behind NAB summoning her again was that the government was worried about her party and its supreme leader Nawaz Sharif’s “popularity rising again”.
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