Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday said the police "did their work" and acted in "accordance with the law" to book and later arrest PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar from Karachi a day ago.
Shah was addressing a press conference along with senior members of his cabinet a day after Safdar was arrested from his hotel room in Karachi, where he had arrived along with his wife, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, to attend the second anti-government rally under the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) banner.
On October 18 — the day of the rally in Karachi — Safdar had visited the Quaid's mausoleum along with party workers and Maryam, where he jumped inside the perimeter of Quaid's resting place and raised slogans, a move that had drawn widespread criticism.
The next day, he was arrested by police from his hotel room on charges of violating the sanctity of Jinnah’s mausoleum and hurling murder threats at some individuals. Safdar was later released on bail the same day.
Some leaders of the PDM, including Maryam, had claimed in a presser after Safdar's arrest that the move was an attempt to enforce cracks among the opposition by the federal government and its agencies, which “kidnapped the provincial police chief and forced him into signing the arrest order”. The details of the complainant were also made public and it was revealed that he was an absconder.
The government, however, denied the claim with Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi calling it a "nonsense narrative".
In his first media briefing since the incident, Sindh CM Murad Shah on Tuesday announced that a ministerial committee will be formed to investigate the arrest of Safdar, adding that PTI lawmakers in Sindh had pressurised the police into registering the FIR, which he claimed was based on a "lie".
"Certain facts have emerged and those will be investigated [...] what occurred from 4:30pm on October 18 till the morning of October 19 will be probed," he said, adding that he will also appear before the committee if required.
Shah clarified, however, that he was not trying to justify Safdar's behaviour at the Quaid's mausoleum and that the "inappropriate" incident that took place there merited action, which would have been taken according to the law.
But, he went on to add, the PTI lawmakers used the Quaid's mausoleum to file a case under Section 506-B (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code, which the police accepted.
"First, a PTI MPA files a request at the police station. Officials explained to him that you can't do this and also explained the process to him. Then another MPA comes and files another request. He is again told the procedure," Shah said.
"Then another person from the Quaid-i-Azam mausoleum's board comes to the police station and files a request," he said.
"He was told that yes, it is a violation, but a magistrate will take cognisance – not the police.
"They tried to pressurise the police but officials did not succumb to their pressure. The bigger the PDM rally got and the more their incompetence was revealed, they became more and more anxious and filed request upon request," the CM claimed.
"Scaring and threatening the police and pressurising the force is not the job of elected representatives," Shah said, adding that the Sindh police would never do something illegal.
It was only in the morning that his government got to know what had happened, Shah claimed, referring to Safdar's arrest from his hotel.
"They [PTI lawmakers] wanted to do something illegal, their anxiety was obvious. So what they did is that they had a person file an FIR [and] I say this because PTI MPAs were present with the person at the police station," Shah said.
They filed a false case, Shah said, showing a picture of the meeting between the complainant and a PTI leader. "Do they have any shame? What extent are they willing to go to achieve their goals?"
"Now let me tell you the conspiracy. Waqas gave his details to the police. When his location was traced, it was discovered that at the time of the incident stated in the complaint, he was near Baqai Medical University located on Super Highway," Shah said, adding that he was only "stating the facts" and that a final decision was going to be taken by the court.
In his complaint with the police, Waqas had claimed that he was present at the mausoleum and had tried to stop Safdar from sloganeering but that the PML-N leader paid no heed and later hurled death threats at him.
"Look at how they malign institutions. More than that, look at how they are using the Quaid's mausoleum. When a lie [started the whole thing] then complications will arise. To cover up that one lie you will have to tell several more," the chief minister said.