The PML-N on Tuesday lashed out at Pakistan's interim interior minister Sarfraz Bugti over his remark that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would be arrested on his return if he fails to secure bail from a court, prompting the caretaker government to release a clarification.
The 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo is scheduled to return to Pakistan from London on October 21 to lead the party's election campaign.
Nawaz, who is facing multiple corruption cases, has been living in London since November 2019 when he was allowed by the court to go out of the country for eight-week duration to seek medical treatment. However, the former premier never returned to Pakistan where he was convicted of corruption and jailed, and was subsequently declared an absconder.
According to the PTI report, Interior Minister Bugti said, “As you know, the airport is a sensitive area, a mob would not be allowed there...so if he does not get bail from the courts then we would have to arrest him.”
He was replying to a question on whether the government would arrest Nawaz if he failed to procure bail from the courts.
The PML-N, which has announced a grand reception for Nawaz in Lahore where he would land, lashed at Bugti for his remarks, with the party's Punjab president Rana Sanaullah terming the comments as “exceeding his jurisdiction”, the report mentioned.
“Where Nawaz Sharif has to go from the airport on October 21 will not be decided by the interior ministry, it will be decided by the people,” Sanaullah wrote on X.
He also reminded Bugti that before making such statements, he should look at what happened to former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed, who is in police custody for corruption.
However, Sanaullah announced that Nawaz would fulfil the requirements of the law in courts.
Another PML-N leader and former information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Bugti has no business with where Nawaz will choose to go from the airport. “This is Nawaz Sharif’s and the people’s decision,” she said, it mentioned.
Smitten by the barbs hurled by the PML-N, Bugti gave a clarification, saying his comments were taken out of context and given a “political colour”.
“I was asked that if any criminal comes to the country, what would your preparation be for their arrest? No preparations are needed to arrest someone, it is the function of the state,” he clarified, the report mentioned.
“The caretaker government does not have a political agenda,” the interior minister said, adding that the former premier would be treated as per the law on his return to the country and the caretaker government would work according to its mandate,” it mentioned.
Nawaz was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018. He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills case before he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on "medical grounds".
Nawaz's younger brother and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, 71, has previously said that the PML-N supremo will be the next prime minister if the party returns to power in the general elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to conduct a fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the new census, delaying the general elections, which were scheduled to be held within the 90-day constitutional period since the August 9 dissolution of Parliament.