Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the federal government and the ministry of interior to present Shireen Mazari before the court by 11:30pm tonight after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former human rights minister was arrested outside her residence in Islamabad on Saturday afternoon.
Her daughter Imaan Zainab Mazari claimed in a tweet that “Male police officers have beaten and taken my mother away. All I have been told is that anti-corruption wing Lahore has taken her.”
Islamabad police, however, denied the reports of mishandling and clarified that: “Dr Shireen Mazari was arrested by female police officers as per the law at the request of the anti-corruption department.” Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment officials confirmed that Mazari had been taken into custody.
Mazari’s daughter, who is a lawyer, filed a petition in Islamabad High Court against the arrest. Shireen Mazari has recently been quite vocal and highly critical of the new government and establishment since the ouster of the Khan government in a no-confidence vote last month.
The former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan condemned the arrest. “Our movement is completely peaceful” but this government “wants to push the country towards chaos” and “avoid elections”, he claimed. Khan said the PTI would hold a protest on Saturday against the arrest and that he would announce the date for the party’s planned long march to Islamabad tomorrow. PTI Punjab president Shafqat Mahmood condemned the arrest saying it was “illegal” and that “She was manhandled and mistreated which is shameful.”
Hamza orders release
Following the fierce backlash, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz ordered the release of Shireen Mazari the same evening. “The arrest of a woman is not in line with our social values,” he said in a statement, adding that action will be taken against the anti-corruption staff behind the incident.
Shortly after Mazari’s arrest, leaders of the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) denied that the arrest was politically motivated. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan said that Shireen Mazari was involved in a land grabbing case worth billions. Responding to claims, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that Shireen Mazari is being investigated for an alleged case registered against her family in 1972 when she was just 6 years old.