Spy agency ISI, Rangers take orders from PM Khan: PML-N's Abbasi on Safdar's arrest controversy
Islamabad, Oct 22: Pakistan's former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Thursday that Prime Minister Imran Khan was responsible for the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, an issue that brought the paramilitary forces and police in direct conflict in the country's largest city.
Abbasi said that institutions such as the spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Rangers take their orders from the country's prime minister.
"Both the institutions, the ISI and Rangers, directly report to the premier. Someone gave them instructions and that person can only be the prime minister. No one else can do that. The officials of these institutions take their orders from the country's premier," he said.
Opposition parties have alleged that the Sindh police chief was reportedly forcibly taken away by paramilitary Frontier Corps from his home in Karachi in the wee hours of Monday and pressurised to order for the arrest of Sharif’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar.
Safdar was arrested on Monday from his hotel room in Karachi for raising slogans at the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder M A Jinnah just before the second rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement's - an alliance of 11 Opposition parties. He was released on bail on the same day and flew back to Lahore, but the Pakistan People’s Party which rules the province while distancing itself from the incident wondered who had ordered the arrest of Safdar.
Controversy had already been brewing over the circumstances surrounding Safdar's arrest, with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders claiming that the police had been put under pressure to pick him up.
Abbasi said that the reality was the prime minister gave the "unlawful" order to violate the sanctity of the "chaddor and char dewari" as police forcibly entered the room of Karachi hotel where Safdar and his wife Maryam were staying.
"These matters are very serious. The Constitution was violated, the authority of the province was challenged and the province's top officer was kidnapped. These are not small matters [and] all things go back to the premier's office,” Abbasi said. He said that Khan as prime minister would have to give an answer. He also urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take a suo motu notice of the incident and hold responsible those involved in it.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz rejected the comments made by Abbasi, saying that the PML-N was trying to weaken the government. He said the country needed a stable environment for fostering economic growth but the opposition "wants to damage democracy and the country" through agitation.
On Tuesday, the Inspector General Police of Sindh province, Mushtaq Mahar, deferred his leave and asked his officers to set aside their leave applications for ten days "in the larger national interest" after Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Safdar.
Mahar, at least two additional inspectors general, seven deputy inspectors general and six senior superintendents of police had decided to go on long leave in protest over the siege of Inspector General House. On Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad ali Shah met IGP Mahar and other top officers to assure them that the government was with them.
"Sindh government is with its police in their difficult time. We will not let police be demoralised under any condition," he said. Shah asked the police officers to continue their duties in an objective and independent manner and said his government would try to address their grievances.