Karachi – Abdul Rehman Chudhary:
In a high drama, Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar – the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – was arrested from a hotel room in Karachi on Monday morning for allegedly disrespecting the mausoleum of the Founder of the Nation, only to be released by a court hours later.
Safdar, who was in Karachi along with his wife Maryam Nawaz to attend the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) rally, had allegedly chanted slogans at the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah when he paid a visit to the place on Sunday along with other party leaders ahead of the rally.
A video of Safdar excitedly shouting PML-N’s famous slogan vote-ko-izzat-dau [respect public mandate] inside the mausoleum had gone viral on the social media with a number of people deeming it as an inappropriate behaviour on part of the PML-N leader.
However, no one expected that the authorities would swing into action within hours after the mausoleum visit, as law enforcing agencies allegedly barged into the room where Safdar and his wife were staying early Monday morning and took him into custody.
Maryam Nawaz was the first person to break the news on micro-blogging site Twitter at 7 am. “Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt Safdar,” she wrote.
A video also went viral on social media that showed the broken door of Maryam Nawaz’s room. It also showed Captain Safdar in a police mobile outside the hotel.
It later transpired that the PML-N leader was arrested on basis of a first information report (FIR) registered at Brigade Police Station on the complaint of a Waqas Ahmed, a PTI a worker. However, Captain Safdar was shifted to Aziz Bhatti police station in Gulshan e Iqbal.
Apparently, the Sindh police had also announced on their official Twitter handle that they have arrested the PML-N leader but the tweet was deleted only to reappears hours later.
The arrest whipped up a storm with the PDM leaders condemning the move.
However, it came as a huge embarrassment for the PPP which rules over the Sindh province and which had hosted the Sunday PDM power show in Karachi at the 13th anniversary of a deadly bomb blast at PPP rally in 2007.
Soon after Maryam’s tweet, Sindh former governor Muhammad Zubair – who is also the spokesperson of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz – appeared on some TV channels to claim that Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar was coerced into arresting Safdar.
Referring to his conversation with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Zubair said: “Inspector General Police (IGP) Sindh Mushtaq Mahar was kidnapped by Rangers at 4 in the morning and brought to the sector commander office where he was forced to issue the orders for the arrest.”
Later, when Maryam and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and former prime minister Raja Pervai Asharaf addressed a press conference, Fazl also endorsed Zubair’s statement. “I have talked to the CM who condemned it and said the IGP was kidnapped and forced to sign on arrest warrants,” he said.
PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also issued a statement, saying he was shocked to hear about the incident.” Talking to Maryam Nawaz Sharif over the telephone, the PPP chairman expressed complete solidarity with her adding that the manners in which the arrest was made was against Sindh’s traditions.
According to the statement, Bilawal said the Sindh government was not informed about the arrest and he had asked the chief minister to investigate the incident and to take all measures to release Safdar.
Briefing on the issue, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah said the PTI leaders had given an application to lodge a case against Captain Safdar, but the police had refused to comply. Later, the Quaid-i-Azam Board also approached police to register a case against Safdar.
According to the information minister, the police had suggested to the board officials take the matter to a magistrate. Later, a man also appeared in the police station, claiming that Captain Safdar had also threatened him to kill. The police then registered the case and started an investigation.
“But before any investigation, Captain Safdar was arrested in a humiliating manner. The Sindh government has taken serious notice of the incident and is investigating as to how and why the police entered the hotel room and arrested him.
“The Sindh government has ordered an inquiry into the matter. It seems that the case was registered at the behest of the federal government. “This drama was staged without keeping the Sindh government into confidence,” he said.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah will also speak to the media today [Tuesday] with regard to the incident. However, a source privy to the matter said the IGP was not kidnapped; he was summoned to the sector commander’s office.
“When the local police refused to arrest Safdar, the DG Rangers phoned the additional IG Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon and the Sindh IGP and asked them to come to the sector commander office where they were asked to sign on the arrest warrant.
“The IGP was asked to issue the arrest warrant and he was told that Rangers would conduct the raid to arrest Safdar. But after the warrant was signed the police were asked to do it.
“The IGP and the additional IG were present at the office of station commander without their mobile phones that were deposited somewhere else in the office,” he said.
But the police in its Twitter post justified the arrest and declared it according to law. “The arrest of Capt (retd) Safdar was done according to law and the investigation will be impartial. Due process will be followed in all respect,” it said.
Sources privy to the development said after Safdar’s frenzied chanting of slogans the PTI leadership had become active and started mounting pressure on the police and Sindh chief minister to arrest Safdar without any delay.
“The CM had talked to Muhammad Zubair last night at the rally and asked him that it was not a good omen and Captain Safda should have avoided it,” a source said, adding that there was pressure on the chief minister and IGP also from some other quarters to register the FIR and arrest him.
“We had little doubt about it because Sindh the chief minister was puzzled when he talked to Muhammad Zubair on this issue,” a PML N leader said.
After Safdar’s arrest, the PML-N leaders led by Muhammad Zubair reached the police station with a legal team but the police refused to let them enter the police station.
“We waited for an hour. Then we informed the media that we are not allowed to meet Safdar. Only then the police allowed our legal team to enter the police station,” PML-N MNA Khehal Das Kohistani said.
After a few hours of controversy, Captain Safdar was presented in a court where a judicial magistrate granted him bail against a surety bond of Rs100,000. Maryam and Safdar, who were staying with 70 people from their party and social media team at the hotel left for Lahore in the evening.