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PML-N lawmakers hold sit-in outside PA demanding Shahbaz’s release

Updated October 11, 2018

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PML-N leaders cross barbed wire in a bid to enter the Punjab Assembly building during a protest against the arrest of party president Shahbaz Sharif. — White Star / Aun Jafri
PML-N leaders cross barbed wire in a bid to enter the Punjab Assembly building during a protest against the arrest of party president Shahbaz Sharif. — White Star / Aun Jafri

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmakers held a demonstration at the gate of the Punjab Assembly on The Mall in protest against the arrest of its president Shahbaz Sharif and demanded his immediate release.

Wearing black armbands, the PML-N MPAs reached the assembly around 3pm to face barbed wire in front of its main gate, meant to stop them from entering the premises. The charged lawmakers, however, managed to cross the wire and asked the assembly’s security staff to open the gate. On their refusal, the MPAs kept pushing the gate but couldn’t crash it. The MPAs then held a sit-in outside the assembly that lasted over one-and-a-half hour.

The lawmakers chanted slogans against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and Prime Minister Imran Khan and in favour of the Sharif family. They chanted ‘Go Imran Go’ and ‘Mian teray jan nisar baishumar (Mian! you have countless diehard followers’ slogans.

A good number of PML-N women MPAs were also present, but they did not try to cross the barbed wire.

Some of the PML-N workers also joined the protesting lawmakers. Prominent among them was Muhammad Ayub, who like previous protests appeared in chains.

When asked why many PML-N MPs were absent as the party had to call some workers, MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt told Dawn that most party MPAs were present. “Since the lawmakers were not allowed to enter the assembly premises some workers might have joined the protest on the road,” she said.

Ms Hina said she was surprised to see the PTI government panicked by the PML-N protest as it made the assembly a ‘no-go’ area for the lawmakers. She said both the PML-N leaders and workers were charged and they would not let the government continue with its ‘political victimisation.’

Speaking on the occasion, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz said the the lock on the assembly gate was actually a lock on the democracy.

“Land mafia people are sitting with Imran Khan. Senior minister Aleem Khan plundered billions of rupees. If Maryam Nawaz can go to jail along with Nawaz Sharif then investigation should also be carried out against Aleema Khan (Imran’s sister) for her offshore company,” he said, adding Imran Khan’s Lahore press conference had a reflection of ‘Muala Jat’ movie. “We had faced 10-year rule of Musharraf and now will see Niazi sahib’s accountability. We are not afraid of your threats and will do aggressive opposition.”

In a statement, Senior Minister Aleem Khan lambasted the PML-N for “attacking” the Punjab Assembly.

“The PML-N should be answerable to the nation for what it had done to the economy. “Hamza will also be exposed for his wrongdoings during the last 10 years,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018