KARACHI: Senior PML-N leader and son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Captain (retd) Safdar was arrested from a hotel in Karachi on Monday.
“Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt. Safdar,” PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz claimed on Twitter.
She also retweeted a video claiming that police had ‘forcefully’ entered her hotel room to arrest her husband.
The PML-N leader was taken into custody after he was booked in a case pertaining to the violation of the sanctity of the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar where a day earlier he had chanted the slogan “vote ko izzat do (honour the vote)” and urged people to join him.
Party workers and supporters had responded to Safdar’s call and chanted along for an extended period of time as Maryam Nawaz and party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb looked on.
The move was met by a fierce reaction by government representatives who not only demanded an apology, but approached the police, asking them to initiate legal action against all those who participated in the act.
The Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar is protected by a set of special laws that prohibit all kinds of political activities within its premises.
Police had filed a case on the complaint of a citizen at the Brigade Police Station on Monday and named Captain Safdar, Maryam Nawaz and 200 other unidentified people in the first information report.
According to sources, Captain Safdar has been shifted to the Aziz Bhatti Police Station.
Sindh govt distances itself
While condemning the manner in which Sindh Police acted against the PML-N leader, senior PPP leader and provincial minister Saeed Ghani stated that the arrest had not been made on the direction of Sindh government.
“What Capt Safdar did at the Mazar was not appropriate,” Ghani conceded, but added that the arrest, “was an attempt to create differences among the PDM parties, which will be foiled”.
While reacting to the development, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar called the arrest a “publicity stunt” by opposition parties.
Taking to Twitter, Akbar reminded Maryam Nawaz that “Sindh police is under [the] complete and direct control” of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, who is the PML-N’s ally these days.
“Either the arrest of your husband was staged by you n your new ally as publicity stunt or you’re working against each other STILL! Which one is it?”
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi commended the Sindh police chief for taking a “quick action” against the “hooligans who disrespected Mazar-e-Quaid”.
The federal minister said that the law must take its course.
Mazar protected under special law
The Quaid’s mausoleum, which is declared “an historical monument of national importance” is maintained and protected under a special law.
The ordinance, “The Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance) Ordinance, 1971”, prohibits all kinds of demonstrations and political activities within the premises.
It states: “No person shall organise, convene or take part in any meeting or demonstration or procession or engage in political: activity of any kind within the Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar or within a distance of ten feet from the outer boundary thereof.”
It also prohibits carrying out any act or behaving in any manner which is derogatory to the sanctity and dignity of the mausoleum.
Under the ordinance, whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
“An offence punishable under this ordinance shall be tried in a summary way in accordance with the provcisions contained in sections 262 to 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898,” the law states.