Shahbaz Gill arrested by Islamabad police for sedition, inciting public against state institutions: Sanaullah
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday confirmed that PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was arrested by the Islamabad police "in accordance with the law" on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions.
"He will be presented before a court tomorrow," he said, adding that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against the PTI leader on behalf of the state.
Sanaullah revealed that the case was registered at Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio's complaint under sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Earlier in the day, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry claimed that Gill had been "abducted" from the Banigala Chowk by unidentified personnel in cars with missing number plates.
In a tweet later, he had added that Gill's whereabouts and the details of the case against him were still unknown.
In a press conference alongside Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb today, the interior minister claimed that PTI chief Imran Khan had been working on a "narrative" to "create divisions in the military" after realising that he had been "trapped" in the foreign funding case and Toshakhana Reference.
"To remove the public's attention from this, a narrative was formed in a meeting with Imran," he said. "[During the meeting] Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill were given the responsibility of spreading this narrative.
"A private news channel was also involved in this conspiracy," the minister said, referring to ARY News. The channel had been issued a show-cause notice by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) yesterday for airing "hateful and seditious" remarks made by Gill.
Later, he tweeted that the "script" was prepared under Imran's supervision and propagated by Gill on ARY News.
Talking to the media, Sanaullah went on to say that a preplanned programme had been aired on the news channel yesterday and Gill was taken on call. "He read out the entire narrative from a script.
"The sentences that were said are such that I think it is not in the national interest to repeat them," he stated, claiming that the PTI leader went to the extent of "seducing people towards rebellion" and "inciting mutiny and sedition in the Pakistan Army ranks and files".
Gill, the minister reiterated, had been arrested according to the law and through a proper procedure. "And I assure you we will treat him in accordance with the law."
He also said that a "fair and transparent investigation" will be conducted, adding that a team had been formed.
Meanwhile, in response to a question, Sanaullah alleged that Gill's comments had proven that the PTI was responsible for running the negative social media campaign on the tragic incident of army helicopter crash amid flood relief operation in Balochistan.
"Their [the PTI's] social media was behind it [...] and now people, who have been caught, are spilling everything."
He said that the matter was "grave", warning that whoever was found guilty would be arrested, irrespective of their position.
Abduction not arrest, says Imran Khan
Earlier in the day, Imran tweeted that Gill's arrest was an "abduction, not an arrest". "Can such shameful acts take place in any democracy? Political workers treated as enemies," he said.
Separately, in an interview to ARY News, the ex-premier said that what happened with Gill doesn't even happen in a "banana republic".
"The videos are circulating on social media and they show that Pakistan has zero fundamental rights [...] there are no institutions to protect the public [...] that there is no fear among those who are behind it."
He added that the party will take action and "pursue" the case.
Imran also shared a video of Gill's assistant who claimed that the party leader was "arrested".
"I wasn't unlocking the car so after moving it to the side, they also subjected me to violence — look at my neck — and after that, he (Gill) was also handcuffed and they broke the car windows with Kalashnikovs," the assistant alleged, adding that Gill was dragged around as well and there were around eight to 10 cars.
In a video shared by the PTI's Twitter account later, the assistant claimed that around 15-20 cars were present during the incident and Gill was roughed up as well.
He added that he was pressed by the unidentified men to hand over Gill's cellphone but he refused. The assistant said that no warrant or legal documentation was shown during the ordeal.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, PTI Islamabad President Ali Awan wrote a letter to the Islamabad police, seeking a copy of the first information report (FIR) of Gill's arrest.
The letter also claimed that Gill was "tortured and humiliated".
Later, PTI lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said that the party would approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for Gill's release, adding that a petition was being prepared.
'Violation of human rights'
Meanwhile, several PTI leaders condemned Gill's arrest.
Murad Saeed alleged that the windows of Gill's car were smashed while his assistant was also assaulted.
He claimed that a "terrible plan" was hatched last night but PTI's followers had sent a "clear message" that any action against party chairman Imran Khan would be crossing the "red line".
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said Gill's alleged abduction and ARY being taken off air were part of the "grand design of US regime change conspiracy and its abettors".
PTI leader Farrukh Habib said the party could not be "intimidated and suppressed by such high tactics" and called for Gill's immediate release.
He also claimed that Gill was arrested by the government
Condemning the incident, PTI leader Babar Awan said it was "proof" of how scared the government was.
In a press conference later in the day, Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Omar Sarfraz Cheema said that the PTI expected higher courts to take immediate notice of Gill's arrest.
He called the incident a "violation of human rights", saying that even terrorists were not arrested in such a manner.
"If such measures aren't stopped then the federal government will be responsible for the situation," Cheema warned.
Separately, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid claimed in a video message that his Islamabad residence was raided with "four cars and they sent a white clothes platoon to Lal Haveli".
Rashid said he did not fear his arrest or going to jail, however, he warned that a warrant should be shown for his arrest, otherwise, "I want to record in front of the entire nation that I carry the legal and constitutional right to defend myself".
However, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police debunked Rashid's claims saying that there was "no truth" to it. It added that a "propaganda campaign" was being run regarding arrests of political leaders.
"Only the news issued by the spokesperson of the Islamabad police will be confirmed, citizens are requested not to listen to rumours."
Gill's controversial comments
A day ago, Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were "highly hateful and seditious" remarks tantamount to "incite armed forces towards revolt".
The notice went on to say that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such "rank and file" support Imran Khan and his party "which is fuelling rage within the government".
He had also alleged that the "strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.
Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past "and they were at the government positions now".
"The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests," the watchdog stated.
"Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative."
'PTI conspiracy against army'
Meanwhile, coalition leaders called Gill's remarks "anti-national" and against the state institutions.
Federal minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif asserted that attacking the armed forces was unacceptable. By doing so, he continued, "Imran and his followers have proven that they are working on an agenda".
PPP Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that Gill had "exposed the PTI's conspiracy against the army". "We severely condemn Shahbaz Gill's attempt to incite soldiers [against the army leadership]," he said.
The senator stated that Gill was a lecturer and should have been aware about the kind of statements that should be made.
"The PTI should explain whether Shahbaz Gill's statement is the party's policy?" he demanded, calling for legal proceedings against the PTI leader.
Additional reporting by Nadir Guramani