ISLAMABAD / KARACHI / LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claimed on Friday that a number of its leaders — including Senator Saiful­lah Khan Nyazee, Hamid Zaman and Tariq Shafi — had been picked up by the Federal Inves­tigation Agency (FIA); a claim that the agency initially denied.

PTI leader Iftikhar Durrani was the first to raise the issue. Taking to Twitter, he claimed that Senator Nyazee had been picked from the premises of Parliament House, where he had arrived for a session of the Senate.

He also said that the FIA earlier had raided his house and confiscated some equipment from there. Later, he also announced that a raid had been carried out at the residence of another PTI leader, Aamer Mehmood Kiani.

PTI Senior Vice President and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry urged Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to take notice of the incident, saying that parliament had never been insulted like this before.

But later, during a press conference, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Saifullah Nyazee and Amir Zaman had been taken into “protective custody” for interrogation, adding they might be arrested after due diligence, if necessary.

He said that the two men had not been appearing in the foreign funding case.

Before the minister’s remarks, FIA had issued a statement denying social media reports about the senator’s arrest.

Similarly, the agency also arrested Hamid Zaman in connection with the foreign funding case from Lahore.

According to the FIR lodged against him, both Mr Zaman and Mr Shafi are accused of being accomplices of Abraaj founder Arif Masood Naqvi.

The FIR alleged that Mr Naqvi had “siphoned off Rs9.1bn from funds of Abraaj Group and its subsidiary companies abroad and funneled to the Aman Foundation’s accounts through Foreign Telegraphic Transfers (FTTs) with unexplained money trail.”

The FIR lodged in Lahore also names the Karachi-based Tariq Shafi, whose residence was also raided by FIA and during an hour-long search and seized, “different items” were seized. However, while the PTI claimed he had been arrested, the agency denied making any arrests.

Officials said an FIA team had “laid siege” to Mr Shafi’s home late on Thursday and moved in on Friday morning.

The FIA attempt, an official said, was strongly resisted by Mr Shafi’s family, who insisted on seeing a search warrant. Footage aired on news channels showed masked FIA officials and policemen scaling the walls of Mr Shafi’s neighbours to gain access to his home.

Tariq Shafi is said to be a close associate of Mr Naqvi and has been a member of the PTI Central Finance Board. He is accused of registering a “bogus trust to give the impression that same is part of PTI” by the name of ‘The Insaf Trust’, of which Mr Zaman was the general secretary.

He was one of the characters named in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s verdict in the PTI’s prohibited funding case and was summoned by the FIA several times following the launch of an FIA probe in the basis of the decision, which stated that the party had, in fact, received prohibited funding from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals.

“We strongly condemn the arrest of Saifullah Niazi, Hamid Zaman and Tariq Shafi by the FIA. We are living under the mindset of Hitler rule,” tweeted former federal minister and the PTI’s Sindh chapter president Ali Zaidi.

Iftikhar A. Khan in Islamabad, Imran Ayub in Karachi and Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2022

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