Pakistan Detains Senior Politician From Former Prime Minister Khan’s Party – Laredo Morning Times

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Police in Pakistan arrested a senior leader of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party early Wednesday on charges of threatening the head of the election watchdog and other government officials.

The arrest of Fawad Chaudhry, an outspoken critic of the government, is a major setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, of which he serves as vice president. The party quickly condemned the arrest and called for his release.

Khan also denounced the arrest, saying on Twitter that it left no doubt that Pakistan has become a place “devoid of the rule of law”. He urged supporters to “stand up for our fundamental rights” to prevent the country from drifting towards “a point”. no return.”

The arrest took place during a pre-dawn raid on Chaudhry’s home in Lahore, the capital of East Punjab province, his family said. Shireen Mazari, a spokesperson for Khan’s party, said Chaudhry was directly handcuffed by police in Lahore.

Hours later, amid tight security, Chaudhry was taken to Islamabad, where a judge allowed police to detain him for two days to determine why he threatened the head of the election watchdog and others civil servants

Chaudhry’s wife, Hiba Fawad, told reporters that security forces were rough with her husband, pushing him into a vehicle and taking him away.

“There is a procedure to follow if you want to arrest someone,” he said. “It can’t happen that ten or twelve people come into a house, arrest someone, throw them into a vehicle and take them away without telling the family where they are. taking them.”

Footage later released by the party showed Chaudhry’s supporters gathered in court and throwing rose petals at him as police led him into a courtroom.

Angered by his arrest, hundreds of Chaudhry’s supporters blocked a key road in Jehlum, his hometown in Punjab province, to demand his release.

In a statement, Islamabad police said Chaudhry was arrested following a complaint by the Election Commission of Pakistan accusing him of threatening the head of the election watchdog, Sikandar Sultan Raja, and other officials. . The threats were aimed at preventing them from performing their duties and inciting people to violence against them, police said.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb later on Wednesday claimed that Chaudhry’s arrest was not political and is not a case of “political victimization”.

Chaudhry was arrested after publicly threatening election officials, and even their family members, he said. “This arrest was made after a complaint by the election commission,” Aurangzeb said.

“If we had any intention of making political arrests, we might have arrested Imran Khan, but we had no such intention,” he said.

On Tuesday, Chaudhry criticized the election watchdog for appointing a veteran journalist, Mohsin Naqvi, as caretaker chief minister in Punjab. Khan’s party and its allies were in power in Punjab and held the majority of seats in the provincial assembly, but dissolved the chamber earlier this month, a move apparently intended to pressure the government in Islamabad.

The dissolution of the provincial assembly set in motion early elections, which according to the constitution must be held within 90 days.

Chaudhry also told reporters on Tuesday that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government could arrest Khan at any time. Khan, who remains popular with a large following, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April and has since led the opposition.

A former cricket star turned Islamist politician, Khan was wounded in a gun attack while leading a rally in the capital, Islamabad, last November. One of Khan’s supporters was killed and several others were injured in the shootout.

In October, the election commission barred Khan from public office for five years after it found he had illegally sold state gifts and concealed assets as prime minister. Khan denies the allegation and has filed a motion in court to challenge the commission.

Khan has also claimed he was overthrown in a plot by Sharif and Washington, claims both deny.

Along with the provincial assembly in Punjab, Khan’s allies earlier this month also dissolved the legislature in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also held majority seats. The party has called for early federal elections, which Sharif’s government has rejected, saying the vote will be held as planned later this year.

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