LAHORE - After the Punjab Assembly speaker failed to convene the session on Tuesday on their requisition, PML-N lawmakers decided to hold their own session outside the assembly chambers today (Wednesday) to mount pressure on the government to produce Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif in the National Assembly.

The PML-N Central Executive Committee (CEC) after a marathon meeting in Lahore on Monday had set a one-day deadline for the NA speaker to convene the session and issue production order for Shehbaz Sharif otherwise they would hold an open session outside the chamber of the respective forum on Wednesday. The ultimatum given by the PML-N fell flat on the speaker of the ruling party at both places after which the former ruling party decided to hold their own session in protest against the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif on the Punjab Assembly premises today. A similar session will be held outside the National Assembly on Thursday (tomorrow). Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz has called upon all members of the party to reach the Punjab Assembly at 3am today. They will hold session on the stairs of the assembly building.

Similarly, former speaker of the NA, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, has issued a note to the party MNAs for gathering on the NA premises at 3pm on Thursday for the protest session. The former speaker has also invited the allies in the Opposition to join the session.

Shehbaz Sharif, former chief minister and incumbent president of the PML-N, was taken into custody by the NAB on Friday and his 10-day custody was obtained by the Bureau from the accountability court on Saturday. The same day the PML-N moved a requisition for sessions of both houses.

The PML-N had strongly reacted to the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif and termed it witch hunt of political rivals of the PTI government. The party accused the government of arresting Shehbaz Sharif at a time when PTI candidates were facing defeat in by-elections. In this perspective, the PML-N dubbed the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif as victimization. The party says the NAB summoned Shehbaz in Saaf Paani case but took him into custody in Ashiyana housing scam. The party also defended the role of Shehbaz in the project on the plea that he caused not a single penny loss to the national exchequer. Rather, the party said, Shehbaz cancelled the contract after a contractor was found guilty of causing loss to the government.

The CEC meeting was presided over by PML-N patron and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. It endorsed the protest programme of the PML-N parliamentarians. Former law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah told the media after the meeting that the protest could be expanded if the session is not convened as per their demand.

The party is due to persist with the protest session on the assembly premises until its demands are accepted and Shehbaz is given a chance to speak on the floor of the House.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab governor has already notified the session to be convened on October 16 when the Punjab government is scheduled to present its budget for the next eight months to the House. Technically speaking, a session specifically called for budget cannot take up any other business. However, under the constitution, the governor will have to convene the session on PML-N requisition within 14 days no matter the budgetary debate also falls in that duration. On October 16, Shehbaz will be produced in a trial court by the NAB on the expiry of his 10-day remand. The NAB law allows up to 90 days custody of an accused for investigation.

The PML-N has also planned to expand scope of the protest by involving other opposition parties. The party has formed committees to reach out to opposition parties and take them on board in this regard.

The CEC through a resolution had also called for immediate release of Shehbaz Sharif.