LAHORE: A court on Friday ordered the release of hundreds of members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party who handle street-level organising.
Police on Thursday arrested more than 300 workers of the PML-N party, who, they said, had been detained to “avoid a law and order problem”, ahead of the arrival of party founder Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz, thrice removed by power, was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison by a corruption court over his family’s purchase of luxury apartments in London last Friday.
Nawaz and his daughter Maryam, also given jail term alongside her husband Captain Safdar who handed himself in Sunday, are due to land in their hometown of Lahore Friday night where they face arrest by authorities.
Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, acting chief justice of the Lahore High Court, took up a plea filed by PML-N Lawyers Forum President Naseer Bhutta, challenging the detention of hundreds of party members.
During the course of proceedings, the chief of Punjab Police as well as the provincial home secretary said the members had been accused of plotting unrest to coincide with Nawaz Sharif’s return.
The provincial advocate general said 141 members had been detained under Section 3 of The Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960, which gives security forces the powers to detain suspected persons.
He added that 247 members of the party had been detained for allegedly violating a code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The chief justice expressed his displeasure over the perceived delay on the part of the authorities concered in release of the PML-N workers in a bailable offence and ordered their immediate release on bail. NNI