PML-N’s Sanaullah sent on 14-day judicial remand


–Defence counsel says MNA was arrested to settle political scores

LAHORE: A district court on Tuesday sent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President Rana Sanaullah on a 14-day judicial remand a day after he was arrested by a team of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) on his way to Lahore for possessing “15kg heroin” in his vehicle.

Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officials presented the PML-N lawmaker and five other suspects — Akram, Omer Farooq, Amir Rustum, Usman Ahmed and Sibtain Khan — before the judicial magistrate, Ahmad Waqas.

All six suspects were sent to jail on judicial remand after the ANF said the force didn’t need the accused on physical remand.

During the hearing, the defence counsel said that his client Sana was arrested to settle political scores.

A large number of the PML-N supporters gathered to express solidarity with Sana. They chanted the slogan ‘lion lion’ in the courtroom.

Strict security arrangements were made ahead of Sanaullah’s appearance before the court. A large contingent of police was deployed inside and outside the court premises.

According to Superintendent of Police (Security) Faisal Shahzad, over 400 policemen were deployed “to deal with an unpleasant situation”.

The ANF, which arrested former Punjab law minister from the Sukheki area of the Islamabad-Lahore motorway, had said that drugs were recovered from the MNA’s vehicle.

“A huge quantity of drugs was recovered from Sanaullah’s car,” the statement had read, adding that the ANF does not arrest people without any reason.

The politician was traveling with his guards at the time of the arrest, it had added.

ANF officials said that Sanaullah was traveling to Lahore from Faisalabad to attend a party meeting when he was intercepted by a raiding party.

He was taken into custody, after which the anti-narcotics watchdog started an investigation. “Our mandate is to fight against narcotics,” they added.

Sanaullah’s arrest was met with widespread criticism from opposition leaders, who said it was an example of “political victimization”.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that Sanaullah’s arrest was the worst example of lawlessness, and had exposed the “personal vendetta of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

“PM Imran has set an example of using national institutions against political opponents,” he added.

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz called the arrest “absurd” and accused the prime minister of being “directly behind his arrest”. She said that the party loyalist was “arrested for his bold and courageous stance”.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the PML-N leader’s arrest was a “desperate attempt at political victimization”.

“Sanaullah has been a vociferous critic of PPP in the past and is currently one of the most vocal critics of the regime. Arrests expose government’s weakness and desperation,” he said.

The government, in a late night statement, had said that it had nothing to with the arrest. In a video message, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the ANF had detained Sanaullah on “authentic information” that the PML-N leader’s vehicle contained drugs worth Rs150 million to Rs200 million.