Dozens of workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party were arrested by the police ahead of the scheduled appearance of party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari before the National Accountability Bureau headquarters on Wednesday.
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said more than 200 party workers were arrested and at least 50 workers were missing, as clashes erupted between the workers and police outside the NAB Rawalpindi head office.
The workers, who had gathered to welcome their leaders, allegedly pelted stones at police officers who tried to stop them at Nadra Chowk.
At least six policemen were injured in the clashes, police officials said. Geo Newscameraman Shiraz was also injured.
Police officials said that 38 PPP workers were arrested.
Condemning the arrests, Kaira demanded that the workers be released and those missing be returned immediately.
PPP Secretary-General Nayyar Bukhari, also condemning the arrests, called on the authorities to immediately release the workers who were “peacefully awaiting their leaders’ arrival to express solidarity with them.”
PPP leader Saeed Ghani, who was among those gathered outside the NAB head office, condemned the arrests and said his party wants transparent, unbiased accountability. He also demanded strict action against the police officers who allegedly assaulted some workers before arresting them.
“Every political party has a peaceful right to protest,” said Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar the spokesman for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Bilawal and Zardari were questioned by the NAB officials in connection with the ongoing fake bank accounts case.
Last week, a banking court in Karachi had ordered the transfer of the case to Islamabad and summoned Zardari and Bilawal on March 20.
On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court granted a 10-day protective bail to Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur but rejected their request to issue a stay order against the banking court's decision allowing NAB to transfer the fake bank accounts case to Rawalpindi.