Islamabad: Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, a prominent politician and close ally of former prime minister Imran Khan, was arrested in the early hours of Thursday after a police complaint was registered against him.
Sheikh Rasheed was arrested by police in an overnight raid at his home after he accused the country’s former president and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Zardari of plotting to kill Imran Khan. The police case against him was registered on a complaint filed by PPP leader Raja Inayatur Rehman who told police that Ahmed was inciting people to violence by levelling a serious allegation against Zardari.
Ahmed served as interior minister in Khan’s government and is the leader of the Awami Muslim League (AML) party he founded in 2008. He is also a strong critic of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government.
The politician claimed that he was forcibly taken from his residence in Rawalpindi by Islamabad Police. “They broke down the doors, misbehaved and hit my servants,” Ahmed said in a video posted on Twitter. At the end of the video, he says: “We stand with Imran Khan.”
Responding to Ahmed’s claims, the Islamabad Police tweeted a clarification stating that the police were not involved in any misconduct and “did not break any glasses nor ransacked the house.” The police claimed that Sheikh Rasheed misbehaved with police officials but they showed patience. Late on Thursday evening, a district court remanded the AML leader in police custody for two days.
The government has not yet commented on the arrest. Opposition leader and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman strongly condemned the move. “Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive caretaker government appointed by a totally discredited ECP,” he said in a tweet.
Sheikh Rasheed’s arrest comes a day after another Khan ally and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry was released after more than a week in custody over a complaint filed against him by the election commission. Previously, PTI leaders Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill had also been arrested in sedition cases for “criticising state institutions.”
In a separate development on the same day, police also arrested a TV journalist, Imran Riaz Khan, in Lahore. Riaz, who is a staunch supporter of PTI, was detained on charges of “hate speech” and over a “violence-inducing statement” aimed at creating “a rift between the general public and the state institutions”, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said. Riaz Khan’s counsel Mian Ali Ashfaq said the “illegal arrest” of the journalist will be challenged in court. The TV anchorperson was also taken into custody in July last year when 17 cases were registered against him in different cities but he was released a week later on bail.