Army Chief orders probe into ‘Karachi Incident’

By Special Correspondent

Rawalpindi: Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered Tuesday an investigation into the events involving the arrest and release of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, Capt Muhammad Safdar, from his hotel room in the capital.

The Chief of the Army ordered the Commander of the Karachi Corps to “immediately investigate the circumstances” in order to ascertain the facts and to file a report as soon as possible, according to a statement released by the military media wing.

‘Taking notice of Karachi incident, the COAS has directed Karachi Corps Commander to immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible,’ a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The statement came after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressed a press conference, demanding that the Army chief and the ISI chief should probe the matter as the paramilitary Frontier Corps, controlled by the Army, was accused of forcing the police to arrest Safdar.

Safdar, a retired Pakistan Army officer, and his wife, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, were in the city to attend a rally of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) when he was arrested from their hotel for allegedly disrespecting the mausoleum of the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He was subsequently released on bail.

Police allegedly forcibly entered their room in the hotel after breaking the latch of the door.

The incident left the provincial government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) red-faced as the couple was their guest in Karachi where the PPP chief and Maryam had jointly addressed a political gathering against the government on Sunday night.

Bilawal in a press conference told reporters that all top officers of Sindh Police were wondering “who were the people who surrounded” the Sindh police chief’s house in the early hours of Monday and took him to an unspecified location before Safdar was arrested.

He also demanded to know the identities of “the two people who went inside the IG’s house” and where they allegedly took the police chief at around 4 am.

Bilawal’s presser came after the PPP which hosted the PDM’s rally found itself in an embarrassing position when police moved in late night on Sunday and arrested Safdar.

Later, the Army chief also called Bilawal over the telephone to discuss the Karachi incident, according to a tweet by the PPP.

“The Chairman PPP expressed his appreciation to the COAS for taking prompt notice of the Karachi incident and his assurance of conducting a transparent inquiry on the incident,” it added.

Safdar was released on bail on Monday and flew back to Lahore with Maryam and other senior PML N leaders, but the PPP which rules the Sindh province while distancing itself from the incident wondered who had ordered the arrest of Safdar.

Meanwhile, at least 13 top-ranking officers of the Sindh Police decided to go on leave to protest the manner in which the force had been “ridiculed” in the incident involving the arrest of Safdar.

The senior officers have said they want to go on earned leave “to come out of the shock of the unfortunate incident.”

“The recent episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar in which police high command has not only been ridiculed and mishandled but all ranks of Sindh police have been demoralized and shocked.

“In such stressful situations it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner,” the letters by the officers read.

Later on Wednesday, Police officers decided to continue working as normal.

Safdar was arrested a day after he raised slogans at Jinnah’s mausoleum just before the second rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) – an alliance of 11 opposition parties.

On Tuesday, Maryam was booked along with over 2,000 party members for holding an anti-government rally in Lahore where she called Prime Minister Imran Khan a “coward, selected and puppet” who hides behind the Army

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government appears to be panicked as it has been registering a number of cases against the PML-N workers since the PDM launched its movement to oust the Imran Khan government.

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