PTI leader and former federal minister Shahbaz Gill was arrested from Muzaffargarh on Monday for allegedly carrying and displaying weapons on his visit to polling stations PP-272 and PP-73 during the Punjab by-elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan, in its election code of conduct for political parties and candidates, says: “Carriage and display of all kinds of lethal weapons and fire arms shall not be allowed in public meetings and processions and official regulations in respect thereof shall be strictly observed. Aerial firing, use of crackers and other explosives at public meetings shall not be allowed.”
The district police officer of Muzaffargarh told media that Gill was taken into custody from a factory owned by PTI candidate Muazzam Ali along with his guards. They have been taken to an undisclosed location, he said.
Earlier, visuals circulating on television showed Gill with guards clad in Frontier Corps uniform. Prior to his arrest, the PTI leader had tweeted that he was ready to get arrested but refused to let the police take his guards or other party workers into custody.
“Before you reach anyone else, I am presenting myself for arrest,” he tweeted, claiming he was “trapped in a factory”. “Imran Khan’s soldier is not afraid of such tactics. We did not come to do terrorism.”
Separately, in a video posted on his YouTube channel, Gill alleged that polling agents in Muzaffargarh’s PP-272 had not been allowed to enter the polling stations. “We reached out to the ECP but they refuted the complaints. Now, they have sent police to take my guards. What is their purpose? They want to arrest me,” he said.
Later, a tweet surfaced on the politician’s Twitter account revealing that he had been taken to the Saddar Ali Pur police station.
In a press conference later in the day, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the local administration was empowered to take decisions to maintain the law and order situation, promising that the government would support such measures.
His comments came in response to a question regarding Gill’s arrest. “If the officer in charge of overseeing electoral arrangements feels that Shahbaz is misbehaving or has been accompanied by men with no legal status, they could take whatever decision they felt was right.”
Punjab Home Minister Ata Tarrar has confirmed the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesperson Shahbaz Gill for keeping armed guards with him during the provincial by-polls.
In a statement, the Pakistan Muslim League-N leader claimed that Gill was arrested along with armed party activists.
He added that Section 144 was imposed in the province during the by-elections, which placed a complete ban on the display of weapons.
Tarar further said that there was no personnel of Frontier Corps with the PTI leader, questioning the identity of the people accompanying him.
The home minister went on to say that the PTI stalwart had resorted to illegal actions for cheap publicity, adding that the law would take its course against him.
According to Tarar, Gill brought armed men with him to undermine law and order during the polls.
In Multan, Returning Officer said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi is being served notice for attempting to enter polling station.
The Former Foreign Minister on Sunday was prevented from entering the polling station of Basti Dogran by the Pakistan Muslim League-N workers.
As Qureshi reached the polling station Basti Dogran, the PML-N workers surrounded the PTI leader and averted him from entering the polling station. Soon, a heavy contingent of police reached the spot.
Furthermore, the Returning Officer took notice of an issue of manual voting at the polling station in PP-217. He questioned the Presiding Officer in this regard.
The Returning Officer also inquired from the voters present at the polling station, while the Presiding Officer and voters denied the allegation of forced voting.
The Returning Officer also spoke to the former Minister, however, Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed satisfaction over the polling process.