Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz on Thursday “strongly rejected” the claim made by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah that a federal minister had threatened him with the ouster of the Sindh government.
The chief minister had alleged that a federal minister had threatened him that the provincial government would be sent packing if an FIR was not lodged against PML-N leader Captain Safdar for allegedly disrespecting the Mazar-e-Quaid’s sanctity.
“I condemn this lie and strongly reject it,” Faraz, flanked by PM’s Adviser on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar, said in a press conference on Thursday.
“They [the Sindh government] are very mentally distressed by the [lukewarm] response they saw in their rallies,” said Faraz, adding that the Sindh government was trying to hide its “incompetency and corruption” through the arrest saga.
“The video footage of the incident shows Safdar sitting in the police car very comfortably,” the minister said, highlighting that it was ‘evident’ that there was no element of force in the arrest.
He added that even if force was involved, the Sindh government should be held responsible for it.
PTI workers only involved in filing application: Akbar
On the other hand, advisor to PM Shahzad Akbar referred to the Opposition as the “IG of liars”, claiming that PTI workers had only been involved in the filing of an application for the FIR and not the arrest itself.
Akbar, while presenting the “facts” as per the “timeline” of the case, noted: “A few days ago, there had been a ruckus at the Mazar-e-Quaid.”
“First, there was a ruckus. After the ruckus, some people from Karachi, including PTI workers, gave an application at a police station to file an FIR,” Akbar said.
The advisor explained that under the established procedure, the police recevies an application and then reports it. He added that police officials then form an opinion, take a legal view on the situation and thereafter register an FIR.
“PTI’s total role in all this was that we gave an application. The laws that were [allegedly] violated were written down and a written application was given that action should be taken,” said the adviser.
The PM’s aide said that after this process, “everyone’s role finished” and the role of the Sindh government started.
“After we woke up in the morning, we saw that an FIR had been registered at night and Safdar Awan was arrested,” Akbar claimed.
He also added that the claims of police breaking into the hotel room still needed to be investigated.
“The thing that came forward in camera footage was that Safdar Awan was seen leaving the hotel in the front seat of a Sindh Police vehicle,” Akbar said. He reiterated that it was clearly Sindh Police that arrested the PML-N leader.
‘Arrest should not have been made’
Akbar also said he disagreed with the arrest, saying there was no point for it as Captain Safdar’s crime was a bailable offense.
“Everyone knows where Sindh Police gets its directives from,” Akbar said.
He also added that the Sindh CM should disclose which federal minister called him and threatened to end his government.
Akbar and Faraz were speaking two days after the police’s top brass sought to proceed on leave en masse in protest against the “demoralising and shocking” treatment of the Sindh police chief in the events that led to the arrest of PML-N leader Captain Safdar.
Captain Safdar had landed in a controversy on Sunday when he raised PML-N’s slogan of “vote ko izzat do [give respect to vote]” while standing inside the innermost sanctum of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum.
The act was decried by many as being disrespectful in the least, and violative of the laws protecting the sanctity of the Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar in the most — a crime which carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
A case was subsequently filed against him and Maryam Nawaz for violating the sanctity of the mazar.
Captain Safdar was subsequently arrested from a hotel early in the morning on Monday and taken to Aziz Bhatti Police Station, where he was kept for hours before being released on bail.
The Sindh government had distanced itself from the registration of the case against the PML-N leader and the early morning arrest from a hotel room.