Criminal case under anti-terror law opened against Nawaz Sharif’s party leaders, Zardari condemns

A criminal case under an anti terrorism law has been opened against the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), the party of the ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif who is facing a 10 year jail term.

The charge under the anti terror law has been leveled against the leaders just 10 days before the country goes to polls.

The case relates to a march staged by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on July 13 when Sharif returned to Pakistan to be arrested on a corruption conviction, which defied a ban on holding public rallies on a Friday.

A copy of the First Information Report (FIR), which marks the formal opening of a criminal investigation, names PML-N party leader Shehbaz Sharif, who is Nawaz Sharif’s brother, and a number of other key figures, reported the Reuters.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has condemned initiation of terrorism cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers in Punjab, saying every citizen has the democratic right to hold rallies and public meetings.

The FIR cites section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which has broad provisions defining terrorism to include creating public fear, and lists 10 alleged violations of ordinary criminal law including unlawful assembly.

“We are taking action against PML-N leaders,” the caretaker home minister of Punjab, Shaukat Javed, told Reuters. “But no one will be arrested before the elections.”

“Political activists are the strength of democracy and democratic process,”  Zardari said in a statement issued by his party’s Central Media Office on Sunday.

The former president also expressed concerns over curbs on freedom of expression, saying his party would not tolerate such steps. He boasted that there was no political prisoner during the five years of the PPP government, from 2008 to 2013.

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