ISLAMABAD: Four days after he accused serving army officers of custodial torture, PTI Senator Azam Swati claimed on Tuesday that he was stripped and filmed after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested him last month.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Swati implored Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to summon FIA’s Assistant Director Ayaz Khan “to ascertain the veracity” of his claims.

“You still have 27 days in the GHQ. Please abide by the [Constitution] and summon him [Mr Ayaz]. This is a plea of a Pakistani citizen. This is a request from a sitting Pakistani senator,” he said while addressing Gen Bajwa, who is expected to retire by the end of the month.

He said the officer could reveal the names of everyone who was involved in torturing him “within five minutes”.

The PTI senator claimed that FIA officials “stole” valuables from his home during the raid, but he was not concerned about them. “Even if they had taken my life, it wouldn’t have mattered. But they attacked my dignity.”

He claimed that after he was arrested, he saw Mr Ayaz driving the vehicle which took him to an undisclosed location where he was stripped and tortured.

He vowed to knock at the door of every local and international forum, adding: “If the dignity of a senator is not safe at the hands of constitutional authorities, then no citizen’s dignity is safe”.

He said his only crime was a tweet against a “powerful man” and added that as a senator, he can even criticise the president who is supreme commander of the armed forces. “If this is a crime, then only a court can punish me.”

However, he remarked that the law doesn’t apply to a handful of “powerful” individuals.

“This law is not for Maj Gen Faisal. He is above this law. This is also not for Sector Commander Faheem,” he said, while holding the Constitution in his hand.

Last week, Mr Swati had accused the two officers — Maj Gen Faisal Naseer and Brig Faheem Raza — of physically torturing him and urged the authorities concerned to remove them.

Mr Swati criticised Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and called him a criminal.

He said his press conference was a reply to a presser held by the interior minister and Mr Ayaz, whom he called “his stooge”.

He also thanked Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial for taking notice of his letter, which he submitted along with Leader of the Opposition in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem, urging the court to look into his arrest

He also requested the chief justice to take footage from the CCTV cameras installed outside his house and send it for forensic audit “to unveil facts.” He also alleged that FIA officials “forcefully” took away the backup of the cameras during his arrest.

Last month, Mr Swati was arrested for allegedly tweeting against state institutions, including the army chief. However, he was released eight days later after a special court granted him bail.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2022

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