'They kept beating me': Swati describes his 'custodial torture'
PTI leader Azam Swati on Tuesday described his "custodial torture" in detail as he called on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to investigate the incident to protect citizens from such an ordeal in the future.
Swati, who was arrested earlier this month in a case registered against him over a controversial tweet thought to be against the armed forces, made the remarks at a press conference.
Since his arrest, Swati has alleged he was stripped and tortured and has named two military officials behind his ordeal. PTI chairman Imran Khan had also called out Swati’s “custodial torture” at a press conference alongside him. The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights also condemned it.
During today's press conference, Swati named an FIA official as well.
He waved a copy of the Constitution and lamented that "this rulebook is not applicable to at least 1,000 people".
"Sadly, this [Constitution] also doesn't apply to Major General Faisal and Sector Commander Faheem — who are above the law," he said.
In a reference to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, he said: "You have 27 days left at GHQ [...] you must follow [the Constitution] and summon Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime assistant director Ayaz ..."
The senator claimed that the FIA official was present during his torture and was driving the vehicle when he was "picked up".
"They kept beating me the entire way and one of the men was filming the entire ordeal as I screamed," he said. The senator said it must be investigated who was "cracking jokes" as he was being stripped naked.
"I would not care even if they would have killed me but they violated my privacy and I will knock on the door of all international institutions [...] if a senator is not protected, no citizen is safe in this country."
The PTI leader said his torture was an attack on his dignity and the honour of his family.
Addressing COAS Bajwa, Swati swore that his words were based on the truth.
"This 74-year-old senator is not becoming a source of shame for you. I am a living corpse and fighting for my fundamental rights. I believe that this sacrifice from my family may protect a citizen, professor or a general from being stripped [in the future]."
He also requested the Supreme Court to take the CCTV footage from his house into custody and order a forensic audit to determine the veracity of his claims.
Naming the army chief, Swati said "I've not been martyred like Arshad Sharif ... Bajwa sahib please send your men to me to determine who played such a brutal game with a sitting senator."
During his press conference, Swati thanked the CJP for referring his case to the court's Human Rights Cell. He insisted the case pertained to human rights and was not politically motivated.
He appealed to the CJP and the country's judges to deliver justice and prevent such "extrajudicial treatment" from recurring.
Swati said his only crime was to tweet about a "powerful person", adding, "I am a senator and I appeal to the supreme commander of Pakistan to exercise his powers under Article 243 of the Constitution [...] if it was a crime then the due court process must be followed."
Swati expressed hope that the top court would ensure justice in the case.