Karachi incident reflective of opposition's attempt to 'create conflict among institutions': Shibli

Updated 22 Oct 2020

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Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Wednesday lambasted the opposition for "shifting the war against their corruption towards the institutions", saying that the nation would hold the alliance accountable for their stance.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the federal minister said that the narrative adopted by the opposition "pleases our enemies".

Speaking about the opposition's stance over events surrounding the arrest of PML-N leader retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in Karachi on Monday, he said Pakistan was being "ridiculed globally" and Indian TV channels were showing images of opposition leaders.

"They (opposition) have tried to spark conflict among the institutions [and] are trying to create uncertainty and unrest. The people will hold them accountable for this," the minister said.

Editorial: If true, the circumstances surrounding Safdar's arrest indicate the rule of law is in absolute peril

He challenged the opposition's claim that they were fighting for the people's rights, saying the leaders "who used to ride bicycles now arrive in Land Cruisers and then talk about poor people".

He condemned the "drama staged" at Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's mausoleum by Safdar, saying that instead of denouncing it, the PPP had made it a political incident. Earlier this week, Safdar was arrested for raising slogans at the Quaid's mausoleum before the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) second power show at Bagh-i-Jinnah.

Faraz said the manner in which the Sindh government reacted to Safdar's arrest and the move later by PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to reportedly convince top Sindh Police officers to defer their leaves over the episode "shows that the Sindh government apparently played quite a sinister role" in the incident.

Answering a question, the minister cast doubts on PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's claim that police had broken their room's door at their hotel in order to arrest Safdar. "In the video that I saw it appeared that he (Safdar) was standing in his house and the way he sat in the police van did not show that [any force had been used]," he said.

Referring to the newly launched anti-government movement, Faraz said the opposition had united under PDM's banner to protect their interests. He went on to accuse opposition leaders of "trying to sabotage their future accountability".

The minister accused opposition members of having said "shameful" things about women belonging to the government, saying even First Lady Bushra Imran "was dragged even though she is not a political personality".

"They don't realise which fire they are playing with."

He also criticised Bilawal and Maryam over their statements following Safdar's arrest, saying they had "inherited" their political position.

"Maryam thinks of herself as Benazir [Bhutto]. Benazir was a highly educated woman of class," he said. "Only clothes, shoes and make-up will not cut it; if you talk about the people you will have to live like them."

Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan will not be deterred by the opposition's movement, saying: "Our primary target is to rid Pakistan of these family parties."

Safdar arrest saga

On Monday, PML-N leader Safdar, who was staying at a hotel with his wife Maryam, was arrested for "violating the sanctity of the Quaid's mausoleum" a day after the PDM rally.

Following Safdar's arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register the first information report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the Quaid's mausoleum.

In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah confirmed to him that police was pressured into making the arrest. "When they (police) refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP]," Zubair said.

Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh police chief was forcibly "taken to the sector commander's office and asked to sign on the arrest orders".

Chief Minister Shah told a presser on Tuesday afternoon that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious ‘circumstances’ that led to the early morning raid on Maryam's hotel room and arrest of her husband, but defended the police action once an FIR had been lodged against him.

However, the presser failed to convince the police hierarchy that was in low morale following the Oct 19 episode, compelling Bilawal to address a media conference on the issue.

With the top brass of the Sindh Police deciding to go on long leave in protest over the siege of Inspector General House, Bilawal asked Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to order an institutional probe into the incident.

Later, Gen Bajwa directed the Karachi Corps Commander to "immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible".