LAHORE: The Punjab government on Tuesday alleged that the PML-N workers had been paid money for creating a law and order situation when Maryam Nawaz appeared before the National Accountability Bureau authorities in Lahore.

Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan alleged at a press conference that at least an amount of Rs1 million was distributed among party workers at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharifs a night ago as “advance payment” for creating a scene outside the NAB offices on the arrival of Ms Nawaz there.

Alleging that Senator Pervaiz Rashid was the mastermind of the plan to hire miscreants, he said a total of 200 party workers were assigned the task.

He termed the episode a suicidal attempt by Maryam Nawaz on the politics of her uncle Shahbaz Sharif and cousin Hamza Shahbaz that also further damaged the politics of the N League.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said the scene created outside the NAB offices was an attempt to disturb law and order.

He said the hooliganism outside the NAB offices reminded people of the PML-N attack on Supreme Court in late 1990s [when Raja Basharat himself was in the N League and a member of the Punjab cabinet.]

He said the episode also made it clear that how far the PML-N could go to protect “the corrupt” as constitutional institutions and law-enforcing agencies were also not spared by the “goons” of the opposition party.

The minister said though Ms Nawaz had been summoned by the NAB in her personal capacity, she led a procession to the offices of the anti-corruption watchdog at Thoker Niaz Beg, on the outskirts of the provincial capital. It proved that the PML-N did not respect the institution, he added.

Referring to release of Maryam on bail, he said she misused the concession as law of the land did not allow a person released on bail to march on constitutional and legal institutions.

He said the PML-N was mistaken if it thought that it could bring the government and state institutions under pressure through such tactics.

Defending the strategy of deployment of police and closing of some thoroughfares leading to the NAB offices, he said the government had taken the steps to establish its writ.

He warned that those who tried to take law into their hands, pelted police with stones and/or assembled there illegally would be booked and penalised.

Raja Basharat alleged that stones were carried to the spot in the vehicles meant for security of Ms Nawaz and were given to the party workers for targeting the police and NAB offices. He added that the number plates of the vehicles carrying stones were bogus.

Referring to the PML-N senior vice-president’s allegation that Ms Nawaz was summoned by the NAB in person to cause her physical harm, the minister said she was rather called because of her “misdeeds” and to hold her answerable for what she had been doing in the past.

He said had she appeared individually or in the company of a few workers the scene would not have been created.

He said NAB had sent the government a request for registration of an FIR against some nominated and unknown people involved in the incident. The unknown people, he said, were being identified with the help of CCTV footage and some suspects had been taken into custody.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020