Officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Sindh Rangers involved in the “Karachi incident” that was termed by Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan as a “comedy”, have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting “overzealously”.
“I believe it is a comedy. When I think about that, I laugh. What is happening? It is unfortunate that all the enemies of Pakistan, including India and Israel, are with them,” the premier had said while referring to the incident wherein Sindh Inspector General (IG) Mushtaq Mahar had allegedly been coerced to issue arrest warrants against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Capt (r) Safdar.
The humiliating treatment meted out to the top cop, however, had led to senior officials asking the government for 60 days leave, and chairperson of Sindh’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) demanding Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to hold an inquiry into the incident. The army chief had subsequently ordered Karachi corps commander to conduct an immediate probe into the incident.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the court of inquiry constituted to redress the grievances of the Sindh IG, on the orders of COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, had been completed.
“The court of inquiry has established that on the night of Oct 18/Oct 19, officers from Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and ISI sector Headquarters Karachi were considerably seized with the fall out of the desecration of Mazare Quaid [Jinnah’s mausoleum],” read a statement issued by the military’s media wing.
“They were under increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action as per the law. Assessing the response of police authorities against this developing yet volatile situation to be slow and wanting, in a charged environment, the concerned officers decided to act, rather overzealously,” the ISPR statement said.
“They were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to the misunderstanding between the two state institutions.
“Based on the recommendations of the court of inquiry, it has been decided to remove the concerned officers from their current assignments for further departmental proceedings and disposal at GHQ,” the statement added.
Last month, the ISPR had said the army chief had taken notice of and ordered an immediate inquiry into the “Karachi incident”, Dawn reported.
At the time, the ISPR did not specify which incident it was referring to. However, the statement came minutes after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on Gen Bajwa and ISI Director General (DG) Faiz Hameed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the PML-N leader, who was in Karachi for an anti-government rally of the joint opposition.
On October 19, Safdar, who was staying at a hotel with his wife, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, was arrested for “violating the sanctity of Jinnah’s mausoleum” by raising political slogans at the venue, surrounded by hundreds of party workers.
Following Safdar’s arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the IG was kidnapped and forced to register the FIR [First Information Report] against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the tomb.
In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah confirmed to him that police were pressured into making the arrest. “When they [police] refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP],” Zubair had said.
Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh police chief was forcibly “taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign on the arrest orders”.
The statement by the military’s media wing comes days after PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif said that the inquiry into the “alleged abduction” of the Sindh IG and additional IG, and the “storming of Maryam’s room” had not been made public despite Gen Bajwa’s “personal assurance”.
“Despite Gen Bajwa’s personal assurance, result of inquiry into abduction of IG/AIG Sindh & storming of Maryam Nawaz’s room hasn’t been made public. Does this nation have the right to know the reasons for delay?,” he tweeted.