LAHORE  -  PML-N President and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif has termed arrests of the party workers unwarranted action and a pre-poll rigging under the law of the land and the constitution.

During the last three days, hundreds of PML-N workers have been taken into custody and sent to jails, said Shehbaz Sharif while addressing a media conference at Model Town here yesterday.

He said arrests and jails were not new to the party workers who could not be daunted by these acts.

Referring to the military regime of Pervez Musharraf, the former CM said he, along with Nawaz Sharif, had spent time in jail for the sake of democracy and rule of law.

“We are not the kind of people who will go frightened by such tactics,” he said describing his workers’ arrest a pre-poll rigging and victimisation of the PML-N. He said the PML-N was being pushed to the corner to benefit its opponents in the election.

“The arrests of our workers also cast strong suspicion on the fairness of the upcoming polls,” he said adding, the way arrests were being made amply showed that these were aimed at influencing the elections.

Shehbaz said the FIA had restricted arrest of political persons till July 30 but the order is being violated. He asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to take action on the same and order release of their workers.

About receiving party Quaid Nawaz Sharif at the airport, the PML-N president said it was their constitutional and legal right to proceed peacefully to the landing venue of their leader. He said the PML-N workers were peaceful and could not think of damaging country’s assets. The former chief minister said, “Credit goes to PML-N government and Nawaz Sharif for making the country an atomic power, giving it infrastructure and transport system and ridding it of the darkness and terrorism. The PML-N is known for respecting the law, constitution and democracy.”

Shehbaz said Nawaz was coming back to the country in love for its people leaving his ailing wife behind.

“Nawaz knows well that in Pakistan he will be behind the bars but even then he was coming back out of love for the nation. Punjab administration should to place hurdles in the way of the people who want to go peacefully to the airport to receive their leader,” he maintained. Shehbaz said their call for reception of Nawaz Sharif was within the ambit of law and warned the administration in the same breath that the government will be responsible for the consequences if their caravan to the airport was stopped. He said Nawaz highly respected the law and had attended 109 court hearings. The PML-N president said that accountability court in the verdict had nowhere written that any corruption charge stood proved against the former premier but even then he had been sentenced to 10-year jail and his daughter for seven years on the flimsy charges of abetment. It was a great injustice meted out to the father and the daughter.

“Nawaz is facing this injustice for the sake of the people and people are also standing by him,” he said and questioned the imposition of section 144 in the city where, he added, there was no restrictions for the PTI public meetings. He also expressed displeasure on the silence of the election commission and reiterated his commitment to reach the airport at any cost today.

Shehbaz writes letters to Askari against arrests

Meanwhile, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has written to Caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi against the arrest of his party workers in Lahore.

Sending copy of the letter to the ECP and the chief justice of Pakistan, Shehbaz said, “The arrests directly or indirectly aimed at influencing the PML-N election campaign in a negative manner to prevent us from exercising our right to contest the election freely and fairly.”

He said the workers had been taken into custody without ‘rhyme or reason’ and were being sent to the jail.

“This is blatant violation of the law and amounts to pre-polls rigging by administration of the caretaker government to ensure a favourable playing field for political opponents who are being given a free hand,” said Shehbaz. The former CM said as many as 169 workers of the PML-N were detained in Kot Lakhpat Jail which demonstrated that the PML-N’s peaceful election campaign was being sabotaged in a willful and blatant manner.