KARACHI: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed to hold an inquiry into Captain Safdar’s arrest involving senior officers of the Sindh Police.
“Whatever happened to Maryam Sharif and Captain Safdar sahab is extremely shameful,” said the PPP chairman, as he addressed a news conference. “I am ashamed and cannot show my face at how this happened in my province. How can such a politically weak case involving sloganeering at the Mazar-e-Quaid can stir up such a storm,” said Bilawal.
Holding the prime minister responsible for dual standards, Bilawal said that PM Imran Khan and workers of the PTI had also resorted to sloganeering at the Quaid’s mausoleum in the past.
The PPP chairman said that “even banned militant outfits and their participants” have visited the Mazar-e-Quaid and chanted their slogans. “Did anyone even dare to register an FIR against them,” he asked.
Bilawal said that he wanted the Sindh Police “to function independently”. “We don’t want political interference in our police but that also doesn’t mean we will tolerate interference from anywhere else,” he said.
‘Where was our IG taken at 4:00 am in the morning, who were those people?’
Speaking about reports of the police being pressurised to register an FIR against Safdar, Bilawal said that every officer in Sindh, from an SHO to senior police officers, were wondering who had surrounded the IG Sindh’s office at 2:00 am on Sunday night.
“Who were the two persons who went inside the IG’s house at 2:00 am and where was our IG taken at 4:00 am in the morning?” he wondered.
Bilawal urged DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to hold an investigation into their institutions and determine how their people were operating in the province.
“Such important persons from these institutions should be focusing on the national security matters and law and order issues of the province,” he said. “Our civilian institutions and these institutions have to work together [to uphold the law in Sindh].”
Bilawal said that interference in police matters was intolerable, adding that he had “condemned it in the strongest words.”
“The way this entire incident has unfolded, I cannot tolerate this. We all want the country to move forward. The problems that Pakistan is facing today cannot be solved by one party,” he said.
Urging all institutions to work within their constitutional limits, the PPP chairman said that such a precedent cannot be set. He urged all stakeholders to exercise restraint, adding that there should be some red lines that should not be crossed despite political issues.
“A lot of red lines have been crossed in this incident,” said Bilawal. “Such precedents should not be set again.”
Speaking on the issue of Sindh police officers requesting to go on leaves following the Captain Safdar incident, Bilawal said that “non-political” decisions had dented the police’s morale.
‘If my government goes, so be it’
The PPP chairman made it clear that he would not allow interference in matters concerning Sindh police. “How will my police do its work if they are not accorded respect,” he said. “Institutions are accountable, I ask them to hold their own investigation as well.”
Bilawal said that in other provinces, the police forces were operating as if they were the PTI’s wings. “We have been elected by the people of this province, they gave us a historic mandate. If our government goes, so be it,” added the PPP chairman, promising not to compromise on the integrity of the police force.
“I stand with my police, their respect is mine and vice versa,” he said.
Reacting to reports of the possibility of governor rule being imposed in Sindh, Bilawal said the move would be illegal. “You cannot impose governor’s rule by yourself,” he said. “It can only be imposed by passing an ordinance through the Sindh assembly.”
Army chief Gen Bajwa orders inquiry into incident
Shortly after PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s press conference, a statement from the DG ISPR stated that army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had tasked the Karachi Corps Commander to hold an inquiry into the matter.
“Taking notice of Karachi incident , COAS has directed Commander Karachi Corps to immediately inquire in to the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible,” read the ISPR’s statement.