Bilawal flays arrest of Ali Wazir MNA in Peshawar on Sindh police’s request

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KARACHI: PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday condemned the arrest of MNA and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Ali Wazir a day earlier, terming it “against democratic traditions”.

Wazir was arrested by police in Peshawar on Wednesday in connection with a case registered against him and several other PTM leaders in Karachi after a recent public meeting.

Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Mohammad Ali Gandapur earlier told Dawn that Wazir had been arrested at the request of Sindh Police as a case had been registered against him at Sohrab Goth police station in Karachi. The CCPO said the lawmaker would be shifted to Karachi after fulfilling legal requirements.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

In the FIR, the PTM leaders have been accused of committing several offences, including hatching a criminal conspiracy and passing derogatory remarks against state institutions.

Bilawal on Thursday criticised the arrest, saying “holding public meetings [is] no crime to arrest an elected representative”. Bilawal-led PPP is the ruling party in Sindh.

“Arrest of the elected member of the Assembly in this way [is] against the democratic traditions,” a statement issued by the PPP quoted him as saying.

Terming cases registered against elected representatives and political leaders as “baseless”, Bilawal said such acts “won’t bring good results if the regime continue[s] to muzzle the freedom of expression”.

He said it had been the modus operandi of “fascist governments” to implicate elected representatives in false cases to crush the public voice. “The selected government is also trying to eliminate the democratic voices through adopting fascist tools,” he added, referring to the PTI-led government in the Centre.

Asked about Wazir’s arrest at a press conference today, PPP Sindh president Nisar Khuhro said, “I don’t think he was arrested by the Sindh government; the federation did it.” When pointed out that the arrest was carried out on the Sindh Police’s request, Khuhro said “a case may have been registered” but that he did not have details.

Witnesses earlier said Wazir was arrested after he attended a ceremony held at Shuhada APS Public Library in connection with the sixth anniversary of the Army Public School carnage of 2014.

Several leaders of the PTM, who have also been charged in the case, were also present but were not arrested.

The FIR was registered on December 7, a day after the PTM’s public meeting in Karachi, under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505-B (statements for inducing a person to commit offence against state), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 188 (disobeying order of public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Apart from Wazir, others nominated in the FIR include PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen, MNA Mohsin Dawar, Sana Ijaz, Muhammadullah Mehsud, Noorullah Tareen, Saleh Jan, Mullah Behram, Abdullah Nangyal, Sher Khan Mehsud, Qazi Tahir, Gilaman Pashteen, Dr Said Alam, Hidayatullah Pashteen and Javed Raheen.

The complainant in the case, SHO Riaz Ahmad Bhutto, claimed that when he reached the venue of the public meeting, he saw the suspects addressing around 2,000 participants and trying to incite hatred towards different groups and to create a law and order situation. The SHO said some of the suspects used derogatory language against security forces, police, Rangers and other state institutions.