• Afridi rounded up along with wife; Qaiser gets restraining order against police
• Fawad dashes back to courtroom fearing re-arrest, gets blanket relief

ISLAMABAD: After the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered the authorities to release them from Adiala Jail, the capital police on Tuesday re-arrested Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shireen Mazari and Senator Falak Naz from outside the jail and moved them to an “undisclosed” location.

Apparently, a similar attempt was made to detain Fawad Chaudhry as well, who had gotten relief from the IHC, but the PTI leader dashed back to the courtroom and sought blanket relief from the single-member bench regarding cases registered against him.

Separately, PTI leader Shehryar Afridi and his wife were detained from his house. A team of Margalla police under the supervision of a superintendent of police, along with paramilitary troops, raided the house of Mr Afridi.

The contingent entered the house after some officials scaled the walls to open the main gate.

The police shifted them to the Margalla police station. The wife was later shifted to the women’s police station.

 Shehryar Afridi
Shehryar Afridi

The officer said that the couple was taken into protective custody under 16 MPO (dissemination of rumours, etc.), he added. Another police officer said that a district magistrate was being approached to get 90 days detention order for the couple under 3 MPO (power to arrest and detain suspected persons).

IHC orders release

Earlier in the day, IHC Justice Miangul Aurangzeb granted relief to PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Dr Shireen Mazari and Senator Falak Naz and ordered their release. Justice Aurangzeb also restrained the police from arresting former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.

During the proceedings, PTI lawyer Babar Awan informed the court that Mr Chaudhry was detained despite a restraining order against his arrest. The court summoned the deputy commissioner and ordered the production of Fawad Chaudhry.

Mr Awan argued that when the PTI spokesperson informed the police officials about the restraining order and read out the text which was in English, the official retorted that he could not understand the language and arrested him.

Advocate General Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon opposed the release of Chaudhry and produced the detention order issued against Fawad Chaudhry along with some tweets which, according to him, “incited” people to resort to violence.

 Falak Naz
Falak Naz

Justice Aurangzeb asked Mr Awan to justify the tweets. He replied that the PTI leader never incited the protesters against any institution.

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that Mr Chaudhry should be careful as “arsonists would take it an opportunity to damage the public properties. He reserved the judgement for a while and ordered the release.

However, it was not long before Mr Chaudhry – who tripped twice as he ran towards the court – dashed back to the courtroom after he noticed a police mobile tailing his vehicle soon after he left the premises of the high court. This prompted another petition from the PTI leader, urging the court to give him blanket cover in all cases – even those not pending before this court. Justice Aurangzeb restrained the police from arresting Fawad within the territorial limits of Islamabad.

The high court also ordered the release of Dr Mazari and Senator Naz, both detained in Adiala Jail. Her lawyer Zainab Janjua argued that Dr Mazari was 72 years old and suffering from multiple ailments.

 Dr Shireen Mazari
Dr Shireen Mazari

She said that the police arrested her under the Maintenance of Public Order in violation of the superior courts decisions. The counsel for Senator Naz also took a similar plea and said that due to her ailment, the detention would be hazardous to her life. The court ordered their release, but the police detained them from outside the jail instead of releasing them.

The court also stopped police from arresting former Speaker Asad Qaiser.

Qaiser’s counsel Sher Afzal Khan Marwat argued before the court that his client had nothing to do with the unrest. He said that there were imminent apprehensions of his arrest. However, there was no detail of any case registered against him. He requested the court to seek details of cases pending against Mr Qaiser. He further requested that the police might be barred from arresting Qaiser.

Crackdown on PTI

At least 26 cases have been registered against the PTI at Aabpara, Kohsar, Karachi Company, Noon, Sahms Colony, Shahzad Town, Khanna, Koral, Sihala and Lohibher police stations, for creating law and order situations, damaging public and private property, attacking the police personnel, said police officials.

They added that so far 564 people were arrested in connection with these cases.

Since May 10, at least 13 PTI leaders, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Ijaz Chaudhry, Fawad Chaudhry, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Musarrat Cheema, Maleeka Bokhari, Falak Naz, Ali Mohammad Khan, Shireen Mazari, Ajmal Sabir, Dr Jamal Akbar Ansari, and Saifullah Sarwar have been arrested under the MPO.

Police officials said Mr Afridi and his wife were taken into protective custody and efforts were underway to get their arrest order under 3 MPO too.

Meanwhile, the authorities moved Ali Mohammad Khan, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, and Saifur Rehman to Jhelum.

The PTI criticised the Islamabad police for attempting to re-arrest PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry after the IHC granted him bail in all cases. PTI Central Secretary Information Farrukh Habib and Zulfi Bukhari criticised the police for “flouting the laws” and disregarding the court’s orders. In his reaction, Farrukh Habib said that it was shocking that the police allegedly reached the court to arrest him again despite the court ordering his release.

He also demanded the release of PTI senior leadership, including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Ali Mohammad Khan, Ijaz Chaudhry, Musarrat Cheema, and all those detained under MPO. Mr Bukhari demanded an independent inquiry into episodes of violence and urged the government to stop arrests and torture of citizens. — Mohammad Asghar & Ikram Junaidi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2023

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