A Botched Arrest Embarrasses the Pakistani Establishment

On Monday October 19, Captain Safdar, the husband of PML-N vice President, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, was arrested from their hotel room in

Karachi. What ensued was a plot from what could have been a Bollywood thriller!

In her tweet Maryam Nawaz stated “Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt Safdar.” He was arrested a day after he raised slogans at the Quaid’s mausoleum before the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) second power show at Bagh-i-Jinnah.

The PML-N leader was kept at the Aziz Bhatti police station and later produced before the City Courts, where the police asked the judge to grant physical remand of Safdar. Safdar moved the court to secure a post-arrest bail. The state prosecutor, on the other hand, requested the court to reject the bail application. According to the complainant “A first information report (FIR) was registered against Maryam, Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum. The complainant, Waqas Ahmed, alleged that the PML-N leaders, along with 200 of their followers, reached the Quaid’s grave where Safdar jumped over the grill surrounding it.” Hours after his arrest, retired Captain Mohammad Safdar was granted bail on Monday by a judicial magistrate against surety bonds of Rs100,000 in Karachi.

Many political parties, especially PPP condemned the arrest with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari saying he was shocked to hear about the incident. “Talking to Maryam Nawaz over telephone, the PPP chairman expressed complete solidarity with her, according to a statement. He added that the manners in which the arrest was made was against the traditions of Sindh. Bilawal said that the Sindh government was not informed about the arrest and that he had asked Sindh chief minister to investigate the incident fully and to take all measures to secure Captain Safdar’s release.”

Further, Bilawal while “addressing a press conference in Karachi, Bilawal said all top officers of Sindh Police were wondering “who were the people who surrounded” the Sindh police chief’s house in the early hours of Monday and took him to an unspecified location before Safdar was arrested.  He also demanded to know the identities of “the two people who went inside the IG’s house” and where they allegedly took the police chief at around 4am. “I demand of DG ISI Faiz Hameed and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa to investigate your institution [and] how it is operating in this province,” the PPP leader said, adding that the provincial government will carry out its own inquiry.  He said the advice to carry out Safdar’s arrest in that manner was “wrong” and could damage the armed forces’ “institutional integrity.”

Soon after “Sindh IGP, at least two additional inspectors general, seven deputy inspectors general and six senior superintendents of Sindh police on Tuesday applied for leave in order to “come out of […] shock” caused by the “episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar”. According to the applications — all of which were identical — submitted to IGP Mahar, the officials said that it had become hard for them to “discharge [their] duties in a professional manner” due to the stress caused by Safdar’s arrest.  “The recent episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar in which police high command has not only been ridiculed and mishandled, but all ranks of Sindh police have been demoralised and shocked. “In such stressful situation it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner,” the letters read.”

Following this “Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Safdar and “investigate your institution [and] how it is operating in this province”.”

This resulted in COAS Gen Bajwa speaking with both PPP leadership and the Sindh police leadership to smooth over matters. According to a statement released by ISPR “rmy Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has taken notice of and ordered an immediate inquiry into the “Karachi incident.” He has directed the Karachi Corps Commander to “immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible.”

As an editorial in Dawn stated “A SNOWBALLING crisis, with dozens of Sindh police personnel applying en masse for leave on account of the humiliation they alleged was meted out to their IG early Tuesday morning, has been averted. But make no mistake; this is a temporary reprieve.” However, “Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s press conference later in the day made it fairly apparent that Sindh’s top cop had at 2am found his house laid siege to by the Rangers, after which he was brought to a sector commander’s office and made to sign orders authorising the PML-N leader’s arrest. The intention was obviously to engineer a schism within the PDM opposition alliance. In other words, a federal paramilitary force was used illegally, for political ends, to abduct the head of the province’s principal law-enforcement agency.” Finally,” For a major civil law-enforcement agency to be undermined, that too in such a brazen manner, is entirely unacceptable and deserves to be roundly condemned. The inquiry promised by Gen Bajwa must be thorough, transparent, and lead to those responsible for the fiasco being shown the door. This is too serious a matter to be brushed under the carpet. Finally, it is worth considering that political interference in the workings of the police is also a sign of disrespect towards these law-enforcement personnel. Unfortunately such meddling is on the rise across the country, and it must end.”

Author: Ahsan Kureshi

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Author: Ahsan Kureshi