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  • NAB Lahore office declared 'red zone' ahead of Maryam's hearing on March 26

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    PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz File Photo PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday approved a request by the National Accountability Bureau to declare their Lahore office a "red zone" and for security to be provided to the bureau on the day of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's hearing.

    Maryam has been summoned by NAB on March 26 in connection with the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, as well as the purchase of land in Raiwind.

    According to sources, the Punjab government's sub-cabinet committee on law and order approved the declaration of the NAB office as a red zone during Maryam's appearance.

    NAB had cited fears of a possible attack on its building the day the PML-N leader is expected to appear.

    Sources said approval has been granted for Punjab Rangers and police personnel to be deployed within the NAB office and surrounding areas on March 25 and 26.

    Punjab Minister for Law Raja Basharat has said that no one will be allowed to take the law into their own hands and strict action will be taken against those who disturb law and order and violate coronavirus safety protocols.

    Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Fazlur Rehman, in a gesture of support on Sunday, said that during Maryam's hearing with NAB, the opposition alliance will show up in an act of solidarity with the PML-N leader.

    "The apparent reasons cited by NAB (for the summons) have exposed the bureau for the puppet institution it is. It has approached the court for cancellation of [Maryam's] bail on the basis that she speaks against institutions.

    "So the institution has been formed not to combat corruption but to serve other institutions," he said.

    Fazlur Rehman said that when she appears before NAB on Friday, all of the PDM's workers and leaders will be right there with her.

    He went on to say that the workers will number "not thousands, but hundreds of thousands".

    It will be decided later who among the leaders will be present, but nonetheless, we will be there and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her, the PDM chief said.

    Clashes outside NAB office last year

    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.

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