Human rights lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir was re-arrested outside the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Monday, hours after an Islamabad anti-terrorism court granted her bail in a sedition case.
Confirming the arrest on X (formerly Twitter), the Islamabad police said Imaan was taken into custody in a terrorism case registered at the Bara Kahu police station.
A video of the arrest showed Islamabad police officials taking Imaan away in a police van from outside the jail.
The arrest comes hours after an Islamabad anti-terrorism court granted Imaan and former lawmaker Ali Wazir post-arrest bail in a sedition case.
While Imaan has been re-arrested, Adiala Jail superintendent Asad Warraich told Dawn.com that Wazir’s release is still pending.
Wazir was arrested on August 19, while Imaan was picked up from her home during the early hours of August 20. A pair of first information reports (FIR) were registered against the two at Islamabad’s Tarnol police station and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station.
The arrests were made two days after a public meeting, organised by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). Wazir, a PTM member, and Imaan had both addressed the rally, with videos circulating on social media showing speakers criticising the military establishment over enforced disappearances.
On August 22, an Islamabad court had granted Imaan post-arrest bail in a rioting and dacoity case. However, she remained in police custody in connection with the sedition case.
Meanwhile, an Islamabad ATC on August 24 had rejected the prosecution’s request to extend Imaan and Wazir’s physical remand in the sedition case and sent the two to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on judicial remand.
At the same time, Imaan’s counsel Zainab Janjua had filed a petition seeking her post-arrest bail.
Today, Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain presided over the hearing at the outset of which a script of Imaan’s speech from the PTM rally was read out aloud.
As the prosecution presented its argument, it opposed granting bail to Imaan and Wazir. It informed the court that a report on the contents of a USB in Imaan’s possession had not yet arrived and that the “forensics of the event were still needed”.
However, the ATC granted both the suspects post-arrest bail against surety bonds of Rs30,000 each. However, the two had not yet been released from jail.
Imaan’s lawyer Janjua told AFP that her client “should be released today”. Wazir was also granted bail but will be produced before another Islamabad court in a separate case related to the rally, she said.
Two first information reports (FIR) were registered against the two on August 19 at the Tarnol police station and CTD police station.
The first FIR was registered on the complaint of Tarnol Station House Officer (SHO) Mian 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 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, 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 Grand Trunk (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) as well as Sections 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) and 11 (power to order forfeiture) of the Anti-Terrorism Act read with Section 21i.
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 to march towards Islamabad.
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 was held in the capital.
Additional input by Tahir Naseer and Shakeel Qarar