Officers of Pakistan's police and Anti-Narcotics Force escort opposition lawmaker Rana Sanaullah Khan, center, to appear him in a court in Lahore, Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: MNA Rana Sanaullah, the President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab chapter, was sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand by a civil judge of Lahore on Tuesday.

He was arrested on Monday by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) on charges of possessing large quantity of drugs.

Five other suspects — Usman Ahmad, Sibtain, Akram, Umer Farooq and Amir Rustam — were also sent on a 14-day judicial remand.

They were travelling with him when his vehicle was stopped and searched by the ANF. The court also ordered the jail superintendent to conduct the PML-N leader’s medical examination.

The anti-narcotics team had earlier sought a 14-day physical remand for the PML-N leader and his accomplices but the judge sent them to judicial remand directing the ANF team to produce Sanaullah and others before the court on July 16.

Ahead of his arrival at the court, strict security arrangements were made by law enforcement agencies.

A large number of PML-N workers had taken to the streets to protest their leader’s arrest. They were chanting slogans and condemning the government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for fabricating cases against political rivals.

The District Administration had cordoned off roads leading to the district courts and a contingent of police was deployed along the route and outside the court.

The arrest of the high profile opposition leader has led to soaring political temperatures as leaders of the three main opposition parties — the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F — have termed the arrest a politically motivated act of the PTI government that has “failed to deliver on its promises”.

President of the PML-N and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has called an urgent meeting of the central working committee of the party to discuss the repercussions of Sanaullah’s arrest and to devise a strategy to register protest both in and out of the Parliament.

Vice President of the party and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, has also condemned the arrest of Sanaullah accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of being behind this arrest.

Former President and Co-Chairman of the PPP Asif Ali Zardari and his son, Chairman of the PPP Bilawal Bhutto, have also slated the government for arresting political opponents.

This act of the government is against the democratic norms of the country, said they.

Recently, Sanaullah in his interviews on talk shows had predicted his arrest by government but no one guessed he would be taken into custody over narcotics.

He was appointed President of the PML-N by the party leadership in May.

The firebrand leader is known for his criticism of the PTI leadership and its policies. He sometime used foul language and below the belt remarks while criticising the Imran-led government and according to insiders the PTI government feels relieved at his arrest.

The government spokesperson, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information & Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, has defended ANF’s crackdown on Sanaullah’s vehicle and said the ANF detained Sanaullah on “authentic” information. At the time of his arrest, Sanaullah’s vehicle contained drugs worth Rs150-200 million (Dh3.4-4.5 million), she said in a video message.