Shireen Mazari appears before IHC

ISLAMABAD: On the directives of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), police produced ex-human rights minister and PTI leader Dr Shireen Mazari before the court on Saturday night.

Punjab’s anti-corruption department had arrested PTI leader Mazari today afternoon, but hours after the authority’s move, Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz ordered her immediate release.

The former human rights minister, according to Geo News, was taken into custody in a case related to the encroachment of a piece of land in District Rajanpur.

In a three-page order, IHC CJ Athar Minallah said: “The authorities shall explain under what authority of law the fundamental rights of Dr Shireen Mazari were violated while she was within the jurisdiction of this Court.”

The IHC’s order comes after the PTI leader’s daughter, Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, filed a petition against her mother being “illegally abducted by officials of the Punjab Police”.

The court noted that the ex-federal minister was not de-notified as a member of the National Assembly, therefore, her arrest was not in line with the law as before any MNA’s arrest, the NA speaker should be informed.

The case against the PTI leader was filed at the request of Deputy Commissioner Rajanpur, after which, the Anti-Corruption Establishment Punjab registered the FIR.

Mazari is accused of encroaching upon a piece of land. A complaint was lodged against her on March 11, 2022, while AC Rajanpur was directed to inquire into the matter.

The official concerned prepared the report of the case on April 8 and in the light of this, the Anti-Corruption Establishment registered a criminal case under its Rules 2014.

Following the arrest, the PTI moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and announced to hold country-wide protests later today.

‘Kidnapped’

Speaking to journalists, Mazari’s daughter, Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, confirmed the development, saying that “male police officers have beaten and taken her mother away.”

She warned the new government that she would not “spare any of them if something happens to her mother.”

“I was only told that the anti-corruption wing has arrested my mother,” she said, adding that her mother was arrested without prior notice to the family.

“If this government does such a thing then I will go after them,” she said, adding her mother wasn’t arrested but she would call this a “kidnapping incident”.

As against Imaan’s claim that male officers had arrested her mother, footage aired on Geo News shows several female police officials present at the site of the arrest, trying to drag Mazari out of her car after she started resisting the arrest.

Mazari’s message to Hamid Mir

In a message to senior journalist Hamid Mir two days ago, Mazari had said that she was “unaware of the matter and that she was seven years of age when the land reforms took place in 1958.”

The ex-federal minister said in 1971, she was studying at the London School of Economics (LSE) in England. The PTI leader also added that “we had won cases in the Supreme Court and Lahore High Courts”, without going into the specificities of the cases.

The former minister said that she was having the files pertaining to the matter searched at her village, adding that she does “not even own 500 acres of land.”

Police deny manhandling allegations 

Taking to Twitter, Islamabad Police issued a clarification and said that Mazari was not manhandled as opposed to the claims made by her daughter.

“Dr Shireen Mazari was arrested by female police officers as per the law at the request of the anti-corruption department. News of any mishandling is baseless.”

Politicians, PTI respond

In response to the incident, former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan said Mazari was “violently abducted from outside her house by this fascist regime”.

The PTI chairman noted that Mazari was strong and fearless and if the “imported government” thinks it can coerce her by this “fascism, they have miscalculated!” 

The ex-premier claimed the PTI’s anti-government was peaceful but alleged that “this fascist imported government” wants to push the country towards chaos.

“As if sending the economy into a tailspin wasn’t enough, they now want anarchy to avoid elections. Today we will protest and tomorrow after CC meeting. I’ll announce our long march,” he added.

Condemning her arrest, former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said that such tactics will strengthen their movement.

Talking to Geo News, he said that the government has changed the police officers in Islamabad and other cities. “PTI Chairman Imran Khan could also be arrested,” feared Sheikh Rasheed. He said that PTI’s workers are being arrested across the country.

Former governor Sindh Imran Ismail wrote on Twitter: “The arrest of Mazari is a sign that the imported government is bewildered”.

“The imported government is making the situation complicated itself.”

Meanwhile, former minister for parliamentary affairs Ali Mohammad Khan termed the incident a “cowardly act” of the coalition government.

“The government is not just nervous, it is extremely nervous,” he maintained.

PPP MNA Nafisa Shah stated: “Arresting #ShireenMazari, who has no allegations against her is uncalled for, wrong! Who has ordered her arrest and why?”

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also condemned the incident.

“Things never seem to change in the land of the pure. Shireen Mazari is my neighbour & a dear friend. Her arrest is deplorable and worst form of political oppression. People who have gone through it themselves & have cried foul in the past, why would they indulge or turn blind eye?”

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) wrote on Twitter: “HRCP condemns the arrest and manhandling of senior PTI leader @ShireenMazari1. Her arrest smacks of political victimisation, which has regrettably become an entrenched practice and is deplorable no matter which party is the perpetrator. Dr Mazari is entitled to due process and the incident must be investigated immediately.”

“No one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest & be assaulted. Shameful that a woman @ShireenMazari1 should be beaten. There should be accountability but allegations of corruption must never be used to politically victimised,” wrote AGHS Legal Aid Cell on Twitter.

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