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.
The development was also announced earlier by PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz in a press conference, where she was accompanied by JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman, PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and other political leaders.
"[Safdar] and I will be leaving Karachi together because just now Marriyum Aurangzeb has told me that he has been granted bail," Maryam said.
Maryam had tweeted early Monday morning that her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar had been arrested by the police from their hotel in Karachi.
"Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt Safdar," Maryam said via tweet.
According to Maryam, she was sleeping when the police allegedly "barged in".
PTI minister Ali Zaidi, however, refuted her claim, saying "Maryam [is] once again lying that the hotel door was broken."
The PML-N leader was being kept at the Aziz Bhatti police station and was later produced before the City Courts, where the police asked the judge to grant physical remand of Safdar.
Meanwhile, Safdar had moved the court to secure a post-arrest bail. The state prosecutor, on the other hand, requested the court to reject the bail application.
The atmosphere outside the courtroom was charged as supporters of PML-N and PTI, who had gathered outside for Safdar's hearing, chanted slogans against each other.
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.
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.
The complainant said that he tried to stop him from doing so but Safdar "got out of control" and started threatening him and his fellows that he would kill them. He added that Safdar later damaged government property before leaving the site with his followers.
"My complaint is that Safdar and his cohort violated the sanctity of the Quaid's mausoleum and his grave. A case [should be] registered against him for raising political slogans inside the mausoleum complex, death threats against me and for damaging government property."
According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, a case has been registered on Section 6, Section 8 and Section 10 of The Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance) Ordinance, 1971.
Section 6: Meetings, etc. prohibited. No person shall organise, convene or take part in any meeting or demonstration or procession or engage in political activity of any kind within the Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar or within a distance of ten feet from the outer boundary thereof.
Section 8: Sanctity of Mazar. No person shall do any act or behave in any manner which is or tends to be derogatory to the sanctity and dignity of the Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar.
Section 10: Penalty, etc. (1) Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. (2) An offence punishable under this Ordinance shall be tried in a summary way in accordance with the provisions contained in sections 262 to 265 of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).
Sindh govt distances itself from arrest
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the arrest and said 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.
Senior PML-N leader and Maryam's spokesperson Mohammad Zubair, while speaking to reporters in Karachi, claimed that Safdar's arrest was a "sting operation by the state" and was carried out to damage the PDM alliance.
He said he had talked to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and PPP Minister Saeed Ghani and would reveal the facts before the public soon. "The easiest way for Imran Khan is to arrest [Safdar] so the entire blame will fall on Sindh government and police."
Ghani tweeted that while Captain Safdar's behaviour was inappropriate, the way his arrest was carried out was condemnable.
He alleged this was being done to create a rift among PDM and that Sindh government had no role in the arrest.
PPP MPA Sharmila Farooqi said "sloganeering inside Mazar-e-Quaid is inappropriate, but breaking doors & arresting Captain Safdar in this manner is also unacceptable".
"Sindh government is not a party to this. Clearly a blatant attempt to sabotage the solidarity of PDM and defame Sindh government," she added.
MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Mohsin Dawar — who had attended and addressed PDM's rally in Karachi a day earlier — also condemned the PML-N leader's arrest.
"The violation of privacy is shameful and goes against every norm of decency. Reportedly, Sindh police were forced by Rangers to do this. Those who planned it have attacked the sanctity of Sindh’s hospitality."
'All Pakistanis offended'
Information Minister Syed Shibli Faraz, while speaking to reporters at Peshawar Press Club, said that every Pakistani was offended by what happened at the Quaid’s mausoleum.
"Did you see the ruckus that was created by Safdar, Maryam? They disrespected the sanctity of the founder of Pakistan, the mausoleum," he said, adding that this arrest had nothing to do with politics but with actions having consequences.
Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood was "glad Sindh Police has enforced the law and arrested Capt Safdar".
"He committed a crime at the Mazar-e-Quaid yesterday and law must take its course."
PTI minister Shireen Mazari, responding to criticism of the arrest, said "there are rules and laws in place to observe sanctity of the mazar", sharing a picture. "And these laws were not devised by PTI govt!"
Minster for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the arrest was in accordance with the law, adding that the Quaid's mausoleum "was not a playground for lowly politicians".
Meanwhile, Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi warned the Sindh chief secretary and Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar that action must be taken against the "hooligans who created ruckus" at the Quaid's mausoleum.
"If they are allowed to leave Karachi, you will be directly held responsible for letting them escape. You will be considered as aiders and abettors in the crime," he said in a tweet.
In a video shared by PTI, he said that it was "not acceptable", warning the opposition to "behave themselves". "Nobody will tolerate this hooliganism at Jinnah's mausoleum," he said.
In a separate tweet, the party's Karachi chapter said the PTI members of the provincial assembly had managed to get an FIR registered after "10 hours of continuous efforts".
A day earlier, Maryam along with the senior leadership and a large number of workers went inside the hallway in Quaid's mausoleum to offer fateha and lay a floral wreath. As per the tradition, a qari recited verses from the Holy Quran and Maryam and a few others offered fateha inside the grilled premises.
As soon as the fateha ended, PML-N workers who were standing outside that iron grill in the same hall, shouted slogans in favour of Maryam. Capt Safdar signalled them, apparently to stop them from raising that particular slogan at the grave of Quaid-i-Azam, and started chanting vote ko izzat do slogan that too was against the protocol of the mausoleum.
While Maryam and other leadership stayed silent, Safdar kept on chanting another slogan, ‘long live mother of the nation’, and the crowd responded in an emotional manner. The scene lasted a couple of minutes and Maryam along with others left the premises.
Many social media users also considered the incident as disrespectful and vented their anger against Safdar, Maryam and the PML-N.
PTI central leader and Federal Minister Ali Zaidi had tweeted a video of Capt Safdar shouting slogans and wrote: “This is just not acceptable. The sanctity of Quaid’s Mazar disrespected by these criminals masquerading as politicians.”
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar also tweeted the video and, in a strongly worded statement, demanded the PML-N to apologise to the nation for “disrespecting the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum”.
Later in the evening, senior PTI leader Haleem Adil Shaikh reached Brigade police station to lodge an FIR against the PML-N leadership for violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum.