PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday alleged that the Punjab caretaker government had tortured a watchman to force him into giving a statement against party leader Usman Dar in a corruption case.
In a video message alongside Dar and a man named Javed Ali, Imran said he wanted to deliver the “emergency video talk” since it was about such a “painful and frightening” matter that it could not be delayed further.
“Javed Ali is only one man who has come to the front. They have tried with so many people to give [forced] confessions against our senior leaders or ministers ever since our government fell,” Imran said.
The PTI chief said Dar had got Ali employed as a watchman in Sialkot. “He was picked up by the police and after that ‘namaloom afraad’ (unknown people) … “ he added, before telling Ali to narrate his alleged ordeal.
“This whole statement under [section] 164 [of the Criminal Procedure Code] that was forced from him was to trap Usman Dar and incriminate him in corruption cases.
“After bringing his wife and children to a nearby room, they said they would strip her, photograph her and put them up on Facebook,” the former prime minister said.
Addressing the chief justice of Pakistan, Imran asked, “Who will protect our fundamental rights?”
He referred to the alleged treatment meted out to PTI leaders Shahbaz Gill and Azam Swati under custody, adding that Gill was told to give a statement against the PTI chief — noting that it was the same as the situation between Ali and Dar.
Imran said he had told the chief justice that incidents of custodial torture and the Wazirabad assassination attempt on him had begun since “[former army chief] Gen (r) [Qamar Javed] Bajwa brought ‘Dirty Harry’”.
The PTI chairman said he had asked other people, as he asked Ali, to come forward and narrate their ordeals of alleged abductions and custodial torture but “they are all afraid of the namaloom afraad because they are above the law and can do whatever they want”.
Imran said that Ali was also threatened to not share his ordeal with anyone or he would be killed.
“There is an attack [being launched] on the judiciary by this mafia. These are not politicians but a mafia which makes tapes of judges and do every kind of blackmailing,” he said, referring to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s recent criticism of the judiciary.
Imran called on the chief justice to take suo motu notice on Ali’s ordeal, adding that the namaloom afraad had also threatened Ali to put the entire blame on the police and say nothing else or he would be killed.
“A watchman was picked up and he was treated in such a manner to give evidence against him (Dar) … so they could tarnish PTI’s Sialkot district president and somehow disqualify him or embroil him in anti-corruption [proceedings].
“This is the Punjab caretaker government … a neutral caretaker [chief minister] is committing these actions? This is happening under the neutral caretaker [chief minister],” Imran said.
Javed Ali’s account
Describing his alleged ordeal, Ali said: “I was working as a watchman in the education department. I was called there and told to come and apply for my salary … when I went there I was kept waiting from 11am to 3:30pm and at around 4pm, seven to eight policemen came and handcuffed me, blindfolded me as if I were a terrorist.
“I was then forced into a private car and taken to an unknown location where seven to eight people lay me down and started beating me and [asked] ‘how much money did Usman Dar take to get you employed?’”
He added that he had denied having received any money, following which he was hung upside down and told to confess that he had paid Dar for his job.
Ali said when he resisted giving the statement, his captors threatened him that they would also pick up his family.
‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’
The PTI is currently in the midst of a ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest drive) which Imran has said is aimed at countering the “attack” on the party’s fundamental rights and the economic “meltdown”.
Earlier in the day, Imran condemned the government’s “fascist approach” towards PTI members detained during the movement.
“Refusing to abide by prison rules for political detainees reflects a desperate and dictatorial mindset, which makes our people even more determined to stand up for Haqeeqi Azadi,” he tweeted.
Before the drive commenced from Lahore on Wednesday, Imran had said there were two main reasons for it.
“One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. We are facing sham first information reports and National Accountability Bureau cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists and social media people.”
Second, Imran went on, the drive was against economic meltdown “brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth and gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the people, especially the poor and middle class, under the burden of spiralling inflation and rising unemployment”.
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