LAHORE - The PML-N has started protest against the arrest by the NAB of its president and former Punjab chief minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif on Friday, who was sent on a 10-day physical remand by an accountability court on Saturday.

Joined by other opposition parties, the former ruling party has approached the speakers of the National and the Punjab assemblies with the requisition to call sessions of the two houses to discuss the matter, which is the main story of all newspapers and subject of discussion in all talk shows.

Once a requisition is submitted, the speaker has to call a session within two weeks.

The PML-N leaders are consistently alleging that the arrest of the former chief minister is political victimisation and a move to negatively affect the performance of the party candidates in the Oct 14 by-elections. PPP leader Khursheed Shah calls the arrest pre-poll rigging.

Under NAB custody the former chief minister will be investigated to determine whether he really caused the national exchequer the loss he has been accused of through the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing scheme. In case the investigation could not be completed during these 10 days, the NAB could go for extension in remand.

Furious at the arrest of their party chief, the PML-N leaders want him released at the earliest.

The question is what is it that the NAB has done in violation of the law, and whether the arrest will really adversely affect the performance of the PML-N candidates in the by-elections.

Apparently, political leaders’ utterances against the NAB are tantamount to attacking the credibility of this national institution, which is supposed to keep a watchful eye on corrupt elements. Its chairman, a former judge of the Supreme Court, was picked both by then prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National assembly.

At the moment the NAB faces a dilemma. If it keeps silent over corruption and doesn’t proceed against the corrupt elements, people may belittle it as a useless institution which is devouring huge amounts of public money without giving any results.

But if it actively performs its duties, it has to face other kinds of accusations. In other words, damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

The critics of the NAB action should not forget that a man like Shehbaz Sharif has nothing to fear if he is with clean hands. He can prove his innocence at any forum.

And if Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam can come out of jail through the judicial process, so can the PML-N president and the former chief minister. Therefore, reviling the state institutions is in nobody’s interest.

If anybody has reservations about the working of the NAB, he should hold the PML-N and the PPP responsible for this. Both the parties ruled the country for the last 10 years. They could have enacted necessary laws to improve the working of this institution. Whatever powers and procedural formalities are being followed by NAB at present were given by the two parties that have been alternating each other in power for long.

The PTI only inherited the system and did not give one of its own. Therefore, everyone should follow the rules of the game unless they are changed through the constitutional procedure.

Political leaders are supposed to be role model for the general public. They should respect the law so that others also follow suit. If there are any flaws in the system, they should amend/improve them through the method laid down for the purpose.

They should not forget that the common man gets justice through the very same system. Whether he likes it or not, he has to accept it. And there are no protests/rallies for the common man.

This means that leaders should ‘taste’ the laws and the system they made for the 220 million people of Pakistan.

As for the impact of Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest on the Oct 14 by-elections, it is hard to say that it will certainly lead to the defeat of the PML-N candidates. It may also create sympathy for the PML-N candidates and they may get more votes than they are expecting.