Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) supporters protest
Supporters of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties, wave flags as they listen to their leaders during an anti-government protest rally in Karachi, Pakistan October 18, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Karachi: Pakistan’s army has ordered a probe into the alleged abduction of a provincial police chief, the military’s public relations wing said on Tuesday, following an outcry over the incident.

The probe, ordered by the country’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, comes after local politicians alleged that Sindh province’s top police official, Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar, had been abducted on Monday by paramilitary troops, who coerced him into signing an order to arrest an opposition leader.

Opposition leader Mohammad Safdar, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party, was arrested on Monday following a protest in Karachi, capital of the southern province of Sindh.

Last week, the PML-N and an alliance of opposition parties kicked off nationwide protests against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and accused the military of interference in Pakistani politics - an allegation the military denies.

Safdar, the son-in-law of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was among those leading the protests.

The Sindh government, under which the Sindh police operate, said it had not ordered Safdar’s arrest and that the police had been pressured into taking the action.

“The police chief’s phones were seized. He was taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign the arrest orders,” Maryam Nawaz, Safdar’s wife and Sharif’s daughter, told media on Monday. Mahar was reported to have been allowed to leave on Monday after signing the arrest order.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose Pakistan Peoples Party rules Sindh, publicly called for the army and intelligence chiefs to probe the matter, saying the incident had “crossed a red line”.

Separately, dozens of police officers in the province all applied for leave on Tuesday, to protest the alleged abduction of Mahar.

Following the announcement of the probe, Sindh police said in a tweet that Mahar had decided to defer his own leave request and ordered his officers to set aside their leave applications, pending the conclusion of the probe.