'Smacks of political victimisation': Condemnations pour in from all quarters on Shireen Mazari's arrest

Published May 21, 2022
A file photo of former human rights minister Dr Shireen Mazari. — APP/File
A file photo of former human rights minister Dr Shireen Mazari. — APP/File

After former human rights minister and PTI leader Shireen Mazari was arrested from outside her Islamabad residence on Saturday, almost unanimous condemnation poured in, with journalists, analysts and politicians from both the government and opposition's side criticising the development.

In footage of her arrest, which was aired by broadcasters, Mazari could be seen being dragged out of a car by female police personnel from outside her residence while she could be heard protesting: "No. Don't touch me."

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said Mazari's arrest was "deplorable and the worst form of political oppression". "Things never seem to change in the land of the pure," he rued.

PPP MNA Nafisa Shah said it was "wrong to arrest" Mazari who had no allegations against her.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the incident "smacks of political victimisation".

From the media fraternity, journalist Mazhar Abbas tweeted, "Shireen Mazari, the first political prisoner under the present government. Political leaders and governments not ready to learn lesson from the past. I don't agree with all her views but strongly condemned her arrest and humiliation."

Also condemning the detention was journalist Asma Shirazi, who said it was "simply harassment".

Senior journalist Hamid Mir said the PML-N government should clarify its position.

Dawn News anchor Absa Komal said Mazari's arrest in a "50 year old dubious property case is condemnable". "Evident from her Twitter timeline that she was stepping on some sacred toes," she added.

Journalist Saleem Safi demanded that no injustice should be committed with Mazari and condemned her arrest.

Journalist Ahmed Quraishi said Mazari had "tried to smear me, incite extremists in her political party by linking me to a fake conspiracy to topple ex-prime minister Imran Khan and provoke violence against me", yet he wished her well and hoped that her case would be resolved amicably.

The journalist and Mazari had recently been involved in a spat on Twitter revolving around allegations by the former that former prime minister Imran Khan had tried to establish formal relations with Israel through use of his personal and family contacts.

"Deplorable. This unlawful conduct is blatant harassment and a clear violation of fundamental rights," said Reema Omer, Legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists.

Barrister Asad Rahim Khan, meanwhile, noted that Mazari was arrested "in a case that was investigated all of half a century later – but just 48 hours after the PTI govt fell".

Researcher Ammar Rashid said he had many political differences with Mazari, but, it was "clear" that her arrest was related to her recent criticism of the establishment.

Michael Kugelman, a scholar of South Asian affairs at the Wilson Centre, Washington, pointed out that the arrest would "further weaken an already beleaguered new government by giving Imran Khan and his party another rallying cry".

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