ISLAMABAD: As PTI leader Senator Azam Swati named two high-ranking army officers serving the country’s premier intelligence agency who he alleged were involved in his custodial torture, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah rejected the accusation claiming that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not handed him over to any other institution.

Speaking at a press conference along with FIA cybercrime wing’s Additional Director Ayaz Khan, the interior minister accused the PTI of working on a sinister anti-state agenda and regretted that they were for the last few days targeting the officers of state institutions.

He said a case had rightfully been registered against Azam Swati after his highly objectionable and cognisable tweet maligning both the military and judiciary following the acquittal of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz in a money laundering case. He regretted that the PTI senator went to the extent of accusing Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa of legitimising corruption.

Mr Sanaullah said that on the one hand Mr Swati alleged that the army used its influence to get the prime minister and his son acquitted and, on the other, he maligned the judiciary by trying to create an impression that it takes decisions on dictates from somewhere. He said Mr Swati had lawfully and legally been arrested after meeting all legal formalities by the FIA and respectably treated during the custody, adding that he was neither handed over to anyone else nor did anyone seek his custody.

Senator names two ISI officials; Rana Sana accuses PTI of working on anti-state agenda

“I strongly reject this baseless allegation. It is important to put facts before the nation, as they audaciously tell lies. When lies are told continuously without being retorted, they prevail on the truth,” the minister said.

He said the reports about three medical examinations of Mr Swati in four days belied his claims of torture, wondering why no writ had been filed or a complaint lodged with the ministry by the PTI leader. “He is unleashing propaganda without a legal recourse.”

Mr Sanaullah said it was shameful that aspersions had been cast on two responsible officers of an institution.

Talking about PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s allegations regarding the torture and stripping of his party members, including Azam Swati and Shehbaz Gill, the interior minister said he doesn’t understand why Mr Khan keeps repeating the same narrative. “I am at a loss to understand why he talks about stripping and subjecting to sexual abuse of all his party leaders arrested.”

He alleged that Mr Khan was following an anti-state agenda and wanted to push the country towards chaos and anarchy. He said if the promises that Mr Khan had made to the Supreme Court were true, then the PTI had the right to hold long march. “Everyone has the right to hold a protest, but the Red Zone is our red line,” he remarked.

Earlier in the day, Azam Swati, while speaking at a press conference, accused Maj Gen Faisal Naseer, Director General (C) ISI, and Sector Commander Brigadier Faheem Raza of physically torturing him. He urged the authorities concerned to remove the officers from their posts so that they do not misuse their power.

“In my 22 years of political service for the country, I have seen much better major generals, brigadiers, and inspectors general police than you who worked under me,” Mr Swati said while addressing the two military officers.

Earlier, Mr Swati had given a strict warning to the FIA cybercrime wing, saying he would expose those who tortured him. He gave a 24-hour deadline to the FIA to complete its investigation and reveal the names of those who tortured him or else he would go public with the information himself.

“Warning to FIA cyber Branch Islamabad: Either complete your Enquiry in the next 24 hours naming the agency and persons whom you handed me over or I will tell the court and go public who they were and do not tamper with my CCTV camera equipment. I heard those people naming that person,” he had tweeted.

Azam Swati filed a plea in the Supreme Court against the FIA for arresting him over his “controversial tweets”.

The FIA took the PTI leader into custody from his home in Islamabad on Oct 13. The agency’s cybercrime wing registered the case against Mr Swati over his “controversial” tweets. However, he obtained bail from a trial court in Islamabad after spending days in police and judicial custody.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2022

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