Islamabad: Pakistan police arrested a close associate of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on charges of sedition and allegedly inciting army officers to mutiny.
On Wednesday, a local court in Islamabad granted police two-day physical remand of Shahbaz Gill, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and Imran Khan’s chief of staff. During his court appearance, Gill told the media that he was a patriot, adding that “I did not incite anyone.”
Gill’s lawyer, Faisal Hussain, argued that there were no grounds for physical remand as he had been in police custody for nearly 24 hours but his plea was rejected and the court handed Gill over to the police for two days. Islamabad police spokesperson told local media that a special investigation team had been constituted to probe the FIR reg-istered against Gill. The next court hearing is on Friday.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Gill was arrested by Islamabad police in accordance with the law on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions. He said that the case was registered under several sections including 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The arrest came a day after Shahbaz Gill’s controversial remarks during a TV talk show on a popular private channel, ARY News. The TV channel has been issued a show-cause notice by the country’s national media Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) accused the TV channel of airing “false, hateful and seditious content.”
The channel’s transmission remains blocked in the country. Karachi police have also arrested the channel’s head of news, Ammad Yousaf, from his residence after a case was filed against the channel’s chief executive officer Salman Iqbal, TV anchor Arshad Sharif, analyst and Islamabad bureau chief Khawar Ghumman and producer Adil Raja.
On late Wednesday, PTI chairman Imran Khan said that a conspiracy has been hatched to pit his party against the military. He alleged that a plan was being devised to present “Pakistan’s biggest political party and the army as opponents,” adding that “this plot is extremely dangerous and can damage the country” in the process.
Khan became the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to be ousted via a vote of no-confidence on April 10. Khan has vowed to protest until fresh elections are announced.