LAHORE, Tuesday, August 11, 2020 (WNP/DL): Minutes after Maryam’s press conference ended, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat and Information Minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan of the PTI did a presser of their own to respond to the allegations levelled by the PML-N leader.
Basharat in his remarks said the type of “gunda gardi (thuggery)” seen outside the NAB office today was unprecedented in its 20-year history and even constitutional institutions and law-enforcement agencies were not safe from it.
He said the PML-N had “repeated its history of attacking the Supreme Court” by carrying out the violence and made it clear “to what extent it can go to save corrupt people”. The media was a witness to all the events that unfolded outside NAB, the minister added.
He claimed that Maryam was summoned by NAB in a personal capacity but she “showed up with a juloos (rally)”, which he said showed that the “PML-N doesn’t respect institutions and can go to any extent to pressurise them.”
Basharat accused Maryam of having “misused” the concession of bail granted to her by courts which he said does not allow anyone to attack constitutional and legal institutions.
“It is PML-N’s misunderstanding that they can pressure institutions by charging onto them like this,” he said.
According to the minister, the government “took the necessary steps in order to establish its writ” following the violence. He said “strict action” will be taken and cases will be registered against the people who tried to take the law into their hands, who allegedly threw stones and injured police and who illegally gathered outside the NAB office.
“The saddest part is that bags of stones were brought in Maryam’s security vehicles which were then given out to workers and used to attack police and the NAB office. Our investigation so far shows the cars which carried stones had fake number plates; some of these security vehicles were kept in front of Maryam’s car,” he alleged, saying the excise department was verifying their ownership and cases would also be registered for falsifying the number plates.
Basharat said the violence “could have been avoided” if Maryam had gone to NAB alone or with a few workers. “I want to make it clear. You [Maryam] weren’t summoned to cause you harm but for your deeds. You were called to account for your past wrongdoings,” he added.
He said NAB in a communique had nominated a few people allegedly involved in the violence, adding that those persons were unnamed but they were being identified through CCTV footage.
He revealed that four injured security personnel were being treated at Jinnah Hospital while some were released after being administered first aid. He said cases would be lodged against the suspects responsible for causing injuries to police personnel and losses to state property and for interfering in the state’s functions.
“Maryam said the stones were hurled from the front; they weren’t. You [Maryam] carried them with you to use against the administration, police, and NAB,” the minister said, adding that the government was moving forward on the issue based on footage captured by the media
He added that the PTI government believed in the rule of law. “I assure you, no concession will be given. Cases against the people arrested and nominated will be taken to their logical conclusion,” he said.
“The PML-N should face the facts and account for their theft. If they provoke [authorities], they will have to pay for it.”