Human rights lawyer Imaan Mazari, ex-lawmaker Ali Wazir arrested: Islamabad Police

Published August 20, 2023
Human rights lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir (L) and former lawmaker Ali Wazir (R) on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
Human rights lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir (L) and former lawmaker Ali Wazir (R) on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

The Islamabad Capital Police on Sunday said that human rights lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir and former lawmaker Ali Wazir were arrested “for investigation” hours after the activist posted on social media platform X that unidentified people were breaking into her home.

“Islamabad Capital Police has arrested Ali Wazir and Imaan Mazari,” the police said on X (formerly Twitter). “Both suspects were wanted by the Islamabad Police for investigation. All action will be taken in accordance with law.”

The police did not specify what case they were investigating the human rights lawyer and the lawmaker from South Waziristan in.

It added that the news issued by the public relations department of the Islamabad Capital Police should be accepted as correct. “No one is authorised to give a statement from a police station.”

The development comes after Imaan posted on X in the early hours of Sunday that “unknown persons breaking down my home cameras banging gate jumped over”.

About an hour later, her mother, former PTI leader Shireen Mazari, posted that “policewomen, plainclothes people and r ager (sic) types took my daughter away after breaking down our front door”.

“We asked who they had come for and they just dragged Imaan out. They marched all over the house,” Shireen said. The former human rights minister said her daughter was in her sleeping clothes and asked to change but “they dragged her away”.

“Of course no warrants or any legal procedure. State fascism. Remember we are only two women living in the house. This is an abduction,” she said.

Speaking to the media outside a district and sessions court, Shireen said that officials scaled the gate of her home, beat up her guard and locked him inside his cabin. She said that officials also seized the guard’s phone and his gun, and then broke down their front door.

Shireen said that they then began to bang on her bedroom door. “As soon as we opened the door, they dragged Imaan and took her away. Policewomen were also trying to drag me outside,” she said.

The ex-minister said she then asked the officials whether they were here to arrest both her and Imaan, to which a man in plainclothes gestured to the other to let Shireen go.

Shireen said that officials asked her to point out Imaan’s bedroom as they needed her laptop and phone. “Twenty men went upstairs. They found the room, turned it upside down and seized her laptop and cellphone.”

She said that a policewoman also told her to surrender her own phone which she did. She said that Imaan was willing to go with the police officials but asked to change her clothes. “They said there is no need and dragged her away.”

She said that 20 people entered their home while more officials were standing outside. “There were six female officers that I saw but there was no male wearing the blue uniform of Islamabad Police,” she said.

Imaan, Wazir remanded in two cases

Imaan and Wazir were later presented in a district and sessions court on the count of two cases which were heard by Judicial Magistrate Ihtasham Alam Khan.

According to the detailed court order, the investigating officer (IO) requested 10-day physical remand for the two in a terrorism case but the judge ordered that the two be presented before an anti-terrorism court for the request with Imaan kept in a women police station till tomorrow.

In the second case, the detailed court order said the IO requested five-day physical remand for the two but the judge said the court could not grant Imaan’s physical remand.

She was instead sent on 14-day judicial remand with orders to be produced on September 2 while Wazir’s two-day physical remand was granted subject to pre and post-medical examination. The IO was ordered to show concrete progress in the investigation.

FIRs registered under terrorism charges

Two first information reports (FIR) were registered against the two on Saturday at the Tarnol police station and Counter-Terrorism Department police station.

The first FIR was registered on the complaint of Tarnol Station House Officer (SHO) Miam Mohammad Imran under Sections 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 395 (punishment for dacoity), 440 (mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt) and 506ii (criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

The FIR said that the complainant on Friday at 5pm was present with other police officers at Tarnol Phatak chowk to maintain peace and calm during a rally of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). It said that the rally led by PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen, including Wazir and Imaan, began moving from the spot allocated to it in violation of its no-objection certificate.

The SHO said when the police officers attempted to stop the rally from moving towards Islamabad then the rally’s 700-800 participants armed with sticks confronted the officials. He said that upon being stopped after attempting to move towards Islamabad again, the crowd blocked both lanes of GT road by placing containers and staged a demonstration while traffic was completely blocked.

SHO Imran said when the PTM leadership and supporters were asked to open GT road for traffic, the rally participants attacked the police while issuing threats of dire consequences, broke mirrors of official vehicles, forcefully shut down shops and a petrol pump and snatched anti-riot kits from the police.

The second FIR was registered on the complaint of Inspector Mohammad Ashraf under PPC Sections 124A (sedition), 148, 149, 153 (inciting to riot), 153A (promotion of enmity between groups) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and Sections 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) and 11 (power to order forfeiture) of the Anti-Terrorism Act read with Section 21i as well.

The inclusion of 124A (sedition) in the FIR remains a source of confusion as the Lahore High Court (LHC) had in March invalidated the section, which pertains to the crime of sedition or inciting “disaffection” against the government, terming it inconsistent with the Constitution.

The inspector said he was present at Tarnol when a PTM rally of around 900-950 people blocked GT road. He said Pashteen, Imaan and others had spoken against state institutions and their heads in their speeches, attempted to incite rebellion, weaken the army, compel officers to abandon their duties, promote terrorism warned of dire consequences for the judiciary and called on people to engage in civil war and strife.

The FIR specifically pointed out Pashteen and Imaan for attempting to create distance between Pakhtuns and the army and spreading fear in the public by threatening of marching towards Islamabad.

On Friday, up to 3,000 people had attended the protest in Islamabad, where both Imaan and Wazir gave speeches condemning harassment against Pakhtuns and called for missing people to be returned.

“You are being stopped as if you are the terrorists, while the [Pakistani] Taliban have taken over your homes again,” Imaan had told the crowds in a video posted on social media.

A PTM spokesman told AFP that dozens more members were also detained since the protest held in the capital.

‘Highly condemnable’

The arrest triggered an outpouring of condemnation from rights groups, journalists and activists.

The National Commission for Human Rights said it was concerned by the arrest of lawyer and human rights defender Imaan Mazari. “Late night arrests without warrants as reported by her mother are in violation of due process of law and serve to harrass & spread fear amongst citizens,” it said on X.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly condemned the arrest.

“The manner in which the Islamabad Police broke into her home, allegedly without a warrant, is unacceptable and points to a larger, more worrying pattern of state-sanctioned violence against people exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly,” it said in a post on X, calling for the lawyer’s release.

Amnesty International said it was “deeply concerned” by the incident, adding that the circumstances of Imaan’s arrest violated due process and her right to liberty and security of person.

PTI also condemned the “break in” into Imaan and Shireen’s home.

“These unlawful actions keep violating the basic human rights of people of Pakistan, especially those of our women. Clearly, rule of law is completely non-existent. These abductions, raids must be stopped immediately,” the party said, calling on the higher judiciary to intervene.

“Without rule of law, unfortunately our country can never progress,” the party said.

Digital rights activist and human rights lawyer Nighat Dad asked on what basis Imaan was arrested. She noted that Imaan had been raising her voice “for the voiceless inside and outside the courts of law”.

“Breaking into her house and room and dragging her away is highly condemnable,” Dad said.

Journalist Asma Shirazi also condemned Imaan’s arrest and expressed the hope that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar would take notice.

Academic Nida Kirmani hoped that Imaan was safe and called on people to “raise their voices to demand her immediate release”.

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