ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan on Thursday said a joint investigation team (JIT) has been formed for carrying out a “quick” probe into terrorism cases registered against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other “miscreants” for allegedly attacking the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC).

His remarks only point to heightened political temperature as they come in the wake of a communication that the PTI sent to the United Nations informing it about the “custodial torture” of party workers allegedly by the “state of Pakistan”.

In a speech broadcast live by PTV, the minister said the JIT had been tasked to complete the investigation into all the cases and submit the charge sheet before the courts within 14 days.

“The purpose is to bring to book all those troublemakers, including Imran Khan, who resorted to violence and damaged private and public property,” he pointed out.

He said Additional Inspector General of Special Branch (Punjab) Zulfiqar Hameed is heading the JIT. Islamabad Police’s DIG (HQ) and one official — not below grade 18 — each from the ISI, MI, and IB are its members, he added.

Five-man body to include ISI, IB, MI reps; Nawaz calls for ‘complete action’ against arch-rival; PTI tells UN about ‘custodial torture of workers by state’

He alleged that former prime minister Imran Khan had brought with himself an armed mob during his appearance in the IHC and FJC, on Feb 28 and March 18, respectively. “The purpose was to influence the court proceedings and create such atmosphere that the court cannot function in accordance with the law.”

He said Islamabad police had registered four cases against Mr Khan and his supporters, because the suspects forcibly entered the FJC and IHC and damaged the official property. Mr Khan again brought with himself an armed mob on March 18 who pelted the law enforcement personnel with stones and set on fire official and private vehicles, he added.

In London, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif while talking to the media advocated for “complete action” against Mr Khan. Referring to the JIT, Mr Sharif said, “Everyone knows he is a fraud, but we weren’t aware that he is a terrorist. And this is no small terrorism. Never seen such a big fraud and terrorist in Pakistan’s politics.”

He said, “Why were petrol bombs used? So police officers burn and die? Who has taught them this? This is the first time a political party has behaved like this. It’s unacceptable. There should be complete action against him.”

PTI’s letter to UN

Earlier, the PTI approached the United Nations against the “custodial torture” of its leaders and workers allegedly by the “state of Pakistan”.

UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Dr Alice Jill Edwards, was approached by PTI leader Dr Shireen Mazari through the letter.

“Over the last 11 months we have witnessed a massive upsurge in custodial torture and other human rights violations relating especially to abductions, assault on homes and the frequent use of tear gas, chemicalised water in water cannons and rubber bullets — all against unarmed men, women and even children exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest,” she stated.

“The most recent examples have been the abductions and custodial torture, [and] police and Rangers’ actions against PTI leadership and workers in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi primarily, but spread across Pakistan. In Lahore Mr Khan’s residence was the target of days of attacks to remove workers who had come to support and defend Mr Khan against possible assassination plots given that one such failed plot had already taken place in November 2022,” she said.

She recalled that from March 8 to March 18 police and Rangers had turned the Zaman Park area into a battlefield, killing one unarmed worker after taking him into custody — the postmortem report widely shared on social media, showed torture that led to his death in custody before his body was dumped on the street, she said.

“On 18 March, going against a Lahore High Court order, a heavily armed contingent of Punjab police and Rangers broke the gates of [PTI chief Imran] Khan’s house and entered his home to ransack it,” she said. His wife, a private non-political, was alone at home at the time, she added.

Atika Rehman in London also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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