The National Accountability Bureau on Thursday announced it has postponed the hearing of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz which was due to take place tomorrow.
According to a press release by NAB, a meeting was held today to discuss the hearing along with the recommendations provided by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) in view of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting was informed that NCOC has banned gatherings of all kinds.
The statement said that although Maryam had been summoned to appear before NAB’s investigation team on March 26, in view of the NCOC’s recommendations and for the general good of the public, it was decided that the hearing will be postponed.
The date for the hearing will be announced at a later time, the statement added.
The press release stated that when Maryam had last made an appearance the NAB Lahore office had “deliberately been assaulted and pelted with stones which is tantamount to hampering NAB’s investigation”.
NAB noted that a case was registered against the “culprits behind such unlawful acts” in the relevant police station.
It warned that under the National Accountability Ordinance’s Section 31 (a), demonstrating a non-cooperative attitude in NAB’s investigation, hampering the investigation or misleading the officers conducting the probe, can lead to a 10-year imprisonment.
“Despite these legal provisions, NAB has thus far demonstrated patience and forbearance,” the press release said.
In the meeting, it was also decided that the security arrangements made for NAB must be given back.
Following notices sent to Maryam for the hearing, the Pakistan Democratic Movement had pledged its support to the PML-N leader, with the chief of the alliance, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, declaring that supporters numbering in the “hundreds of thousands” will accompany her.
NAB had cited fears of a possible attack on its building the day the PML-N leader is expected to appear.
Elaborate security arrangements had been made in view of this, with the NAB Lahore office declared a “red zone” and Punjab Rangers and police directed to provide protection to the bureau staff.
Sources said at the time approval was granted for Punjab Rangers and police personnel to be deployed within the NAB office and surrounding areas on March 25 and 26.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a meeting with the government media team today, had vowed that no one will be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
In August last year, when Maryam had been summoned by the anti-corruption watchdog to respond in a case of alleged illegal transfer of government land, violent clashes between PML-N workers and police took place.
Whereas Maryam branded the incident “state-sponsored terrorism” and said the government is “afraid of losing grip on power”, NAB said it had never in its 20 years of existence ever experienced such “hooliganism” whereby its offices were vandalised.
What should have been a routine appearance before the anti-graft body, turned into a series of events that ran late into the evening, with the party as well as government officials engaged in an effort to seize the narrative.
While Maryam accused the police of firing tear gas shells and baton-charging party workers, and moreover of a deliberate attempt to cause her injury, the government said the violence was initiated by PML-N which has a “history” of “launching attacks against law enforcement”.
Later in the day, as many as two dozen of the party’s workers were arrested, with the government vowing to hold all those responsible to account.
Additionally, the following day Maryam Nawaz, her husband Safdar Awan and 188 party workers were booked by police.
A case was registered at the Chohang police station against 300 unidentified persons — including the 188 PML-N workers — with charges including violence against police personnel.
According to the first information report registered, 13 policemen were injured in the clashes.