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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked workers of the PML-N not to gather outside the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) on Thursday, the day he is slated to appear before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing money-laundering allegations against his family.

According to a party office-bearer, the directive has been issued by the prime minister with a view to avoiding any untoward situation which can damage the cause of the ruling PML-N.

Talking to Dawn, the Minister of State for Capital Development and Administration, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, said the prime minister had issued the directives through the party’s office-bearers due to “sensitive nature” of the case.

The minister, who accompanied Mr Sharif’s sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz at the time of their appearance before the JIT, claimed that a large number of party workers had expressed their desire to come to the FJA to show their support to Nawaz Sharif. However, he added, he had informed them about the party leadership’s directives.

Besides the party workers, he said, a large number of parliamentarians also wanted to be present at the FJA to welcome Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Dr Tariq said the decision not to allow PML-N workers to gather had been made by the leadership because it always became difficult for the parties to maintain discipline in large gatherings of the workers. He said the party believed that any individual act of an activist could provide an opportunity to their opponents to exploit the situation for their political gains.

Moreover, he said, the party was still taking the flak for the storming of the Supreme Court in 1997 when a large number of its workers converged on the place to express solidarity with Mr Sharif as he appeared before the apex court in connection with a contempt of court case. “The party cannot afford another such episode.”

The party workers see the FJA as an ordinary building and cannot appreciate the sanctity of its premises, the minister observed.

IMRAN’S FEARS: PTI chairman Imran Khan, in a message through his official Twitter account, claimed that reports were coming in that the PML-N had readied its “Gullus” to have show of physical strength on Thursday when the prime minister would appear before the JIT.

Without explanation, Mr Khan warned that the PTI would not allow this to happen. “We will not allow PML-N Gullus to try and save their leader from the law. Already the Motu Gang has been attacking JIT with threats. Condemnable,” writes Mr Khan.

The PTI chairman assured the JIT and the Supreme Court that the nation stood behind them “as finally the powerful are being brought within ambit of rule of law”.

Meanwhile, the residents of Islamabad on Tuesday witnessed a large number of banners hanging along the Constitution Avenue carrying photographs of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif with messages from a former senator, Abbas Khan Afridi.

Members of the PTI have already expressed concern over the emergence of banners in Islamabad, alleging that the ruling party was using the administration and government resources for this purpose.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2017