ISLAMABAD: The PML-N on Tuesday reacted sharply to the caretaker interior minister’s insinuation that party supremo Nawaz Sharif would be arrested upon his return from London.
Mr Sharif went to London in 2019 after securing bail from Islamabad High Court on medical grounds for eight weeks.
The PML-N supremo, who has since been declared an absconder, is expected to return on October 21.
In a TV appearance on Monday, caretaker minister Sarfraz Bugti had said that Mr Sharif would be arrested if he failed to secure bail from court.
Bugti says statement taken out of context
“As you know, the airport is a sensitive area; a mob would not be allowed there. So if he does not get bail from courts, then we would have to arrest him,” he replied, before adding that Mr Sharif himself would “desire arrest” as once before he returned with his daughter despite knowing that they will be apprehended.
He was then categorically asked if he was “ready to arrest the [former] prime minister”?
“Yes, absolutely,” the caretaker minister replied.
Responding to the minister’s statement on Tuesday, two PML-N leaders, Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb, said “people will decide where Nawaz Sharif would go” from the airport.
“Where Nawaz Sharif would go from the airport on Oct 21 will be decided by the people and not the federal interior minister,” the PML-N leader said in a series of posts on social media platform X.
He claimed Mr Bugti’s comments “were beyond his jurisdiction” and advised him not to “enhance his political stature” by making statements about the PML-N supremo.
“Nawaz Sharif, as always, will fulfil the requirements of the law in the courts.”
He claimed the cases against Mr Sharif were “fabricated”, which was tantamount to “enmity with the country and the people”.
In her statement, Ms Aurangzeb said Mr Sharif was the three-time prime minister of Pakistan, and his punishment in “fabricated cases was unjust”.
In a post on X, the former information minister said Mr Bugti would not remain a minister for life and he should “worry about the country and not Nawaz Sharif”.
“From 2017 till now, these false propaganda and conspiracies have done a lot of injustice to people, not anymore!”
‘Remarks taken out of context’
In response to the criticism, the caretaker minister said his remarks were taken “out of context”.
“My statement was given a political colour out of context. The caretaker government has no political agenda,” he said.
A statement from Mr Bugti was also issued from the official ‘X’ account of the Ministry of Interior. However, one of the posts has since been deleted.
“A significant number of people are preparing to welcome Nawaz Sharif. He will be treated according to the law upon his return,” said the post.
“It is necessary to view matters through the lens of reality, and not assumptions and speculations,” it said, adding the caretaker government will work within its mandate.
Previously, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had said that the decision to arrest Mr Sharif upon his return would be taken by law enforcement agencies.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2023