PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz on Friday said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's stance that there was a "state above the state" in Pakistan has been proven true through the Karachi incident".
She was referring to her husband Mohammad Safdar's arrest in Karachi early Monday morning — just hours after the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) successful rally — which brought Sindh's law enforcement agency and security establishment in direct conflict.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, directly addressing the military leadership, had said on Tuesday: "I demand DG ISI Faiz Hameed and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa investigate your institution [and] how it is operating in this province. All officers of Sindh police are wondering who were the people who surrounded the Sindh police chief’s house in the early hours of Monday. Who were those two men who entered into his home at 4am in the morning and took him to an unspecified location?”
The army chief immediately took notice of the situation and ordered an inquiry into the “Karachi incident”. The Sindh police hierarchy, that was in low morale following the Oct 19 episode and had submitted en masse requests for leave, set aside their applications for ten days.
"What happened in Karachi has shown who is actually running the government," Maryam said on Friday. "Imran Khan is not the government. He is simply a dummy occupying a seat and that dummy has been silent for three days.
"The Karachi incident has made it clear that Nawaz Sharif's stance — about 'state above the state' and Imran Khan being nothing more than a pawn — is correct. Nawaz Sharif only said it, you [Imran] proved it [...] showed the nation what a state above the state is," she claimed.
When asked about the inquiry into the incident — which both the army chief and Sindh government said would be carried out — Maryam said that in her opinion there was no need for an inquiry as everything was already known. "There is plenty of video footage," she said, adding that the provincial government was well aware of what had transpired.
"If there is an inquiry, it should be transparent so that the nation knows everything and the report should be made public."
She said that given the way in which the government appeared to be scared and was "hiding in Bani Gala", its tenure might be over even before January.
"In a democratic set-up, a notice should be taken by the government or the judiciary, no one else. And neither should an appeal be made to others to take notice," she added.
A day earlier as the war of words between the government and opposition continued over the Safdar episode, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said institutions such as the Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Rangers took orders from the prime minister and hence the responsibility of the whole Karachi incident fell on Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“This is the reality behind this incident [and] this is the reality that the country’s premier gave the order to violate privacy,” Abbasi said at a news conference in Islamabad.
Violation of privacy
Speaking about the manner in which the arrest was carried out, Maryam reiterated her allegation that the police had barged into her room and violated her privacy.
"They went against the law [...] without any concern that I was in the privacy of my room with my husband," she said. "You broke the lock of my door [...] you had Safdar's arrest warrant, not mine. This was illegal and you will have to answer for it."
She asked what sort of a government treats "daughters like this", adding that the PTI ministers where trying to cover their own helplessness by issuing statements.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad shortly after, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that contrary to Maryam's claims about her hotel door being broken down, video footage showed that Safdar was not agitated or distressed during his arrest.
"There was no anger on his face and his body language did not show that he was disturbed," the minister said, adding that it was hypocritical of the PML-N to talk about women's respect.
"Perhaps they have have forgotten how they fired at pregnant women in Model Town [and] threw pictures of Benazir Bhutto from helicopters." Did they not care about protecting the chaddor and chaar dewari at that time, he questioned.
He stated that the contradictory claims made by Maryam and the Sindh government made it seem as though PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari had taken revenge for his mother.
"On one hand, Maryam says there is no need for an inquiry. Then she says she will present herself if an inquiry is conducted." The information minister added that members of the PML-N appear in front of the media every day to spew their lies.
It is in their DNA, he said, adding that this has always been the basis of PML-N's politics. "They talk about democracy but when they were in government, they were the ones to violate the sanctity of the vote." They forget about the people when they are in power, he said.
Faraz also stated that former premier Nawaz Sharif — who is currently abroad seeking medical treatment — would be brought back to the country by January 15.
"He will be back in Pakistan by January 15 in some jail," he said, adding that the PML-N supremo would not be allowed to escape without answering for his crimes.
Baloch students' protest
Maryam was speaking to the media during her visit to a camp set up outside the Punjab Assembly by more than three dozen Baloch students, who marched from Multan to the provincial capital for restoration of their scholarships and other academic demands.
As many as 40 Baloch students of the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan had started their march from Multan on Oct 10 and reached Lahore on Oct 21.
Their charter of demands includes restoration of scholarships for the students enrolled at the BZU on the reserved seats for Balochistan and withdrawal of a fee collection notification issued in this regard.
Maryam termed it "shameful" that the government was "neglecting the future of Pakistan".
"These students don't belong to a political party, they are the future of Pakistan. You [Imran Khan] may be incompetent but you can still try to do something for them and sort the students' issues."
She said the students' demands were legitimate and their right.