Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and PTI ally, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, was arrested by Islamabad police in the early hours of Thursday.
Ahmed was taken into custody in connection with remarks he allegedly made against former president Asif Ali Zardari, accusing him of hatching a “murder plot to eliminate PTI chief Imran Khan”.
Confirming the incident, his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique told Geo News that the AML chief was arrested from his home in a private housing society in Islamabad.
The senior politician was arrested on a police complaint filed by Raja Inayat-ur-Rehman, a vice president of PPP Rawalpindi Division, on Jan 27 wherein he said that the AML chief, in a television interview on Jan 27, alleged that PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari got the assistance of some terrorist to kill Imran Khan.
PTI chief Imran Khan in a television address on Jan 27 had alleged that Zardari was behind a fresh assassination plot — a “plan C” — and a terror group had been engaged for the purpose. He offered no evidence to back up his accusation.
The first information report (FIR) — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — was registered at Islamabad’s Aabpara Police Station under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
In remarks quoted by BBC Urdu, Ahmed claimed that around 300 to 400 policemen barged into his house, thrashed staffers, and forcibly took him away.
He alleged that some [personnel] used ladders to enter his house. He went on to say that he had been arrested despite getting relief from the Islamabad High Court.
The AML leader vowed to challenge his arrest in court.
Several hours before, he posted a photograph on Twitter of him smiling at the Aabpara Police Station.
In a video message shared by the PTI on its official Twitter account, Ahmed told journalists that police ransacked his house and beat up domestic staffers while attempting to arrest him.
He claimed that lawyer Mian Tahir had secured his bail and went on to allege that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was behind the incident.
“The IG has been summoned on Feb 6 [for this imove],” the AML chief said, adding “justice will prevail and we are with Imran Khan”.
Reacting to the arrest, the PTI chairman condemned the move. “Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive caretaker government appointed by totally discredited ECP. Question is: can Pak afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when we have been bankrupted by imported government?” he tweeted.
The FIR filed against the AML leader claimed that Ahmed’s statement was made as part of a conspiracy to defame the former president and create a permanent threat to his family.
“He wants to create conflict and enmity between two groups – PPP and PTI – with this fabricated and baseless conspiracy so that the peace of the country can be disturbed,” it added.
Earlier this week, the two units of the Ahmed’s Lal Haveli residence in Rawalpindi and five adjoining units were sealed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over “illegal occupation”.
Subsequently, Ahmed approached the Lahore High Court against the move, stating that the ETPB officials were “misusing their powers under the orders of political high-ups”. Admitting his plea, the LHC ordered the board to settle matters of the property’s ownership within 15 days and also chided the ETPB for its ambiguous stance pertaining to the issue.