The NAB Lahore has arrested PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz from outside the Kot Lakhpat prison. She went there to meet her imprisoned father former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The Maryam Nawaz has been arrested in Chaudhry Sugar mills money laundering case.
The NAB is investigating the money laundering case against members of Sharif family including Maryam Nawaz. Her arrest was expected for some time. The journalists and TV anchors considered close to the ruling circles was predicting her arrest for in this case from many last days. So her arrest is not surprising for those who follow the Pakistani politics closely. It was on the cards for some time. The PTI government was not happy with her political activities.
Maryam was due to appear before NAB in the CSM reference today. However, she had excused herself from appearing before the NAB Lahore today and had gone to meet Nawaz Sharif in jail instead. She was shown the arrest warrants issued by the Chairman NAB for not appearing before NAB Lahore.
Whatever the reasons of her arrest, there are political consequences for PML-N of this arrest. She was busy mobilising the PML-N activists and supporters in different cities of Punjab. She organised sizeable public rallies and gatherings. Maryam has proved that she is capable of pulling large crowds. She was fast becoming a point of attraction for PML-N workers. Many will see this arrest as a politically motivated to stop her political activities.
PTI government will issue routine statement that it has nothing to do it. NAB has arrested Maryam and NAB is an independent state institution who works independently. All those who know the history of accountability and NAB in this country are very well aware of the independent role of NAB. NAB has a history of using its legal powers to change the political liabilities of opposition politicians. NAB was used as a political arm by the Musharaf regime.
There is a thin line between political victimisation and accountability. When NAB will pursue the cases of opposition politicians on fast track and will sit on the files of ruling party politicians. The selective accountability gives rise to the doubts on NAB actions.
The statements of PM Imran Khan and other ministers on accountability process also raise questions and doubts. Pakistan needs transparent and across the board accountability to clean the politics and government from corruption. The political use of NAB against political opponents in the past has tainted the reputation of this institution and accountability process. This is not good at all for the accountability process and its impartiality and transparency.
Everyone who is and was involved in the corruption and corrupt practices to amass the wealth should bring to task. No sane person can support the corruption. But selective accountability in which opposition faces accountability and all those who change their political loyalty and join PTI enjoy impunity from this process. The continued arrests of opposition leaders will provide them an opportunity to build the narrative of selective accountability and political victimisation. They will cry foul. Their supporters will buy this narrative and argument. The government should not provide the opposition an excuse to create doubts on accountability process. The Maryam’ arrest from Kot Lakhpat prison when she went there to meet her father will not go well in political circles.
There was no urgency to arrest Maryam in this case. She cannot leave the country as she is on ECL. The NAB could have provided her another chance to appear before investigating team. The NAB showed haste in her arrest. PTI government is trying hard to build the image of Maryam as a political leader. Her arrest will not tarnish or taint her image in her supporters. They will declare this arrest as political victimisation as the result of her political activities.
Maryam’s arrest will be seen by many in political context. This arrest will further polarise the already divided polity of our country. It will increase confrontation between opposition parties and the government. Our house will stand divided when we need unity. The Indian aggression against Pakistan and Kashmiris is increasing by every passing day. The tension is likely to rise between Pakistan and India in coming days.
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17 November, 2019