At least 300 PML-N workers and party leaders, including a Union Council chairman, vice chairman and counsellors, have been arrested in a crackdown in Lahore as the city braces itself to receive ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on Friday.
Police sources told DawnNewsTV on Thursday that 300 PML-N workers had been arrested in raids on Wednesday night. The district commissioner has provided a list to police of 300 more workers who must be arrested, the sources said.
Additionally, in order to "maintain law and order" in the city, 10,000 police officers will be deployed across Lahore on Friday, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Shahzad Akbar said.
The Anti-Riot Unit will be on alert, and the Dolphin Squad and the Police Response Unit will be deployed to sensitive areas of the city.
Containers will be set up tonight in order to block main thoroughfares across the city, while all roads leading to the airport will be sealed, according to the Lahore Traffic Police.
DIG Akbar said that all superintendents of police have been directed to take strict action against miscreant elements who, during election campaigns or rallies, take the law into their own hands.
He said that those who violated the Election Commission of Pakistan's Code of Conduct would find themselves behind bars, while those political leaders and workers who remain peaceful would be guaranteed complete security.
"No one will be allowed to take the law into their own hands," he asserted.
The extraordinary measures have been taken days after a rally was staged by Nawaz's son-in-law Capt Safdar ─ who received a one-year jail sentence in the Avenfield reference for abetment ─ as he offered his arrest to authorities in Rawalpindi.
The arrest drama on Sunday continued for four hours during which a National Accountability Bureau team remained unable to take Safdar into custody, with police contingents standing by as silent spectators to the crowd that had gathered to show its support to the PML-N leader.
On Friday, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif is expected to lead a rally to Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport to receive Nawaz and Maryam ─ who have been given 10 years and seven years in jail respectively in the Avenfield reference ─ as they return from London where Begum Kulsoom is undergoing treatment for cancer.
PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in an earlier press conference claimed it would be "a historic reception", with "tens of thousands of people" gathering in Lahore to welcome the father-daughter duo in a peaceful rally.
Traffic diversion plan
Traffic coming from Islamabad can enter Lahore via the Motorway, Thokar Niaz Baig, Qazalbash Chowk and Shaukat Khanum Chowk.
Commuters on GT Road can use the Motorway through Kala Shah Kaku to Thokar Niaz Baig, while Kala Khatai traffic will be diverted through Shahdara Chowk, and Begum Kot to Faizpur Interchange.
Multan Road traffic can use Bund Road and Mohlanwal Road. Raiwind traffic can use Bloki Road and Sue-i-Asal Road through to Nala Hadyara and Defense Road to enter Kacha Jail Road, Green Town, Lahore.
Kasur Road traffic can use Kahna Kacha Road Green Town and Rohi Nala Road to enter Defence, Lahore, and Bedian Road traffic can enter Lahore through Defence Phase 5. Barki Road traffic can use Defence Phase 6 and 8 to enter city.
To go out of Lahore, Moulana Shaukat Ali Road, Main Boulevard Johar Town, Shaukat Khanum, Qazalbash Chowk, motorway interchange and Multan Road can be used, according to the Lahore Traffic Police diversion plan.