Outrage after Qureshi manhandled, whisked away in yet another case

Published December 28, 2023
RAWALPINDI: In these screengrabs, ex-minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi can be seen arguing and (right) struggling with police personnel trying to haul him away to prison in yet another case, following his release from Adiala Jail on Supreme Court orders.
RAWALPINDI: In these screengrabs, ex-minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi can be seen arguing and (right) struggling with police personnel trying to haul him away to prison in yet another case, following his release from Adiala Jail on Supreme Court orders.

• Police bundled ex-foreign minister into waiting vehicle just as he was leaving prison
• President Alvi, PTI criticise his ‘maltreatment’; daughter asks ECP to take notice

RAWALPINDI: After his release from Adiala Jail on Wednesday, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi was whisked away by Punjab police from prison in connection with a case pertaining to the attack on the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on May 9

The former foreign minister was initially moved to the Cantt police station by the police, who maltreated him and pushed him into a police vehicle stationed outside the jail. A video of the incident went viral on social and mainstream media.

Footage shared by PTI showed Mr Qureshi, clad in a cardigan and a shalwar kameez, speaking to police personnel gathered outside the jail from inside the jail premises. Mr Qureshi was also asking for media persons because he wanted to issue a statement.

While pointing towards a police official, he said that he would take him to the Supreme Court in the event of any unlawful activity or if the police tried to arrest him.

“I wanted to record a statement that the acting chief justice of the Supreme Court has granted bail in the cipher case and his release order (robkar) was signed by a judge, but they arrested me under 3MPO and detained me,” he said about a 15-day detention order issued by the deputy commissioner which was withdrawn only a day after its issuance.

However, after watching Mr Qureshi for some time, a Punjab police official proceeded to push him out of the gate and towards an armoured police vehicle parked outside the jail. “Look at this. What is this?” Mr Qureshi said as he was pushed the entire way to the van while his daughter filmed the entire scene and the crowd yelled at officials to be careful.

Mr Qureshi said that police were making a mockery of the Supreme Court’s orders. “They are arresting me again in a false case,” he said. “I represent the nation, I am innocent and I am being targeted for political revenge without any reason,” the PTI leader said.

Observers at the scene also noted that as Mr Qureshi was being accosted at the prison door, his daughter appeared quite calm, filming his ordeal and gesturing to him with her hand.

Police sources told Dawn that the former minister was arrested in a case registered at the R.A. Bazaar police station regarding the GHQ attack on May 9. The PTI leader was moved to the Cantt police station amid tight security.

The re-arrest came days after the Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former prime minister Imran Khan and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case and told them to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million each.

On Tuesday, Shah Mehmood Qur­eshi’s family had arrived at Adiala Jail to fulfil legal formalities but bef­ore they could obtain the release order, it emerged that Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner Hassan Waqar Cheema had issued an order for the former foreign minister’s 15-day detention under Section 3 of the MPO. On Wednesday, a subsequent notification issued by the DC said that the detention order had been withdrawn, paving the way for the release of the PTI leader.

Letter to ECP

In a two-page letter to the ECP, Mr Qureshi’s daughter Meher Bano asked the chief election commissioner to ensure level playing for her father and prevent his political victimisation at the hands of the police.

The letter penned on Wednesday said that Mr Qureshi was the PTI vice chairman who was “unlawfully detained at Adiala Jail and subsequently abducted by the police during the last 24 hours and he has not been produced before any court today so far”.

“All of this is happening during the period of the published election schedule and is tantamount to denying the largest political party of the country, to quote the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s above-mentioned order, a ‘level playing field’,” she added.

She has said that it was expected that the Election Commission of Pakistan would fulfil its constitutional responsibilities and ensure the safety and release of Mr Qureshi. Mehar Bano said that it was unfortunate that despite the clear orders of the Supreme Court granting bail to Mr Qureshi on December 22, his release did not materialise till December 27.

Before his release and in blatant contempt of the Lahore High Court’s judgement an MPO order was issued for his detention on Tuesday (and then subsequently withdrawn). He was then taken away by Punjab Police on Wednesday on an unknown charge in some unknown FIR, the letter claimed.

She also expressed disappointment that despite widespread news coverage of Mr Qureshi’s ordeal on Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan did not take any action against the district and police administration of the Rawalpindi Division.

“Respected chief election commissioner, this silence is in breach of your responsibilities to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan and contempt of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s order in Consti­tu­tional Petition No. 47/2023,” the letter concluded. The ‘undignified treatment’ of the former foreign minister drew condemnation from President Arif Alvi and Mr Qureshi’s party, PTI.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), President Arif Alvi said, “Let us not bec­o­me a state where human rights and dignity are tra­mpled upon with impunity. Incidents of paper snatching brutal action on protestors, and now treating an ex-foreign minister from two regimes in an undignified manner must draw the attention of the authorities.” “Detracting argume­nts that similar incidents have happened before do not cut ice because Pakistan must change, and if we as a nation agree, there is no better time than starting now,” the president tweeted.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2023

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