Capital Police arrest Fawad from Lahore

-LHC throws out plea seeking to nullify Fawad’s arrest
-Earlier, PTI leader was presented before Islamabad Court
-Fawad’s arrest draws ire of Journalists, analysts, politicians
-Islamabad Police says FIR launched for ‘threatening’ language against ECP and its members
-2-day physical remand of suspect approved

From Abid Usman

LAHORE: Islamabad Police arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry from his residence for ‘threatening’ Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members.
A case against Chaudhary was registered Tuesday night at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad on the complaint of Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Omer Hamid Khan. The first information report (FIR) was lodged against him for using ‘threatening’ language against the ECP and its members.
The PTI leader has been booked under sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conduc-ing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), Fawad Chaudhry in his speech outside Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore, Fawad warned the ECP, its members and their families. The FIR states that Chaudhary said that the status of the election commission was reduced to that of a “Munshi [clerk]”. Several party leaders condemned the detention of Fawad Chaudhry.
Hours after Fawad’s arrest in the morning, Islamabad Police presented the PTI leader before the court of judicial magistrate Rana Mudassir in La-hore’s Cantt to seek his transitory remand.
At the outset of the hearing, the prosecution told the judge that Islamabad Police had registered a case against Fawad. The prosecution also urged the court to approve a transitory remand of the PTI leader.
At this, Fawad’s lawyer argued that the distance between Islamabad and Lahore was of just four hours and there was no need for the transitory re-mand.
“They [police] should just present him [before a court] in Islamabad,” said Fawad’s lawyer. The counsel claimed that the police wanted to get the transitory remand so they could take his client somewhere else.
The counsel also urged the judge to order the police to uncuff his client’s hands. Instead of both hands only one should be handcuffed, he added. At this, the judge remarked that the lawyer was wasting the court’s time over frivolous arguments.
Fawad’s lawyer also told the magistrate that a habeas corpus plea was pending before a high court and till that is decided his client’s transitory re-mand should not be approved. The magistrate then adjourned the hearing for a few minutes.
Once the hearing resumed, the court approved the transitory remand of the PTI leader to transfer Fawad to Islamabad and present him in a court of the federal capital.
However, the police were asked to conduct a medical of the PTI leader at Services Hospital before he is taken to Islamabad.
Later, The Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday threw out a petition seeking to declare the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry illegal, asking the former minister to approach the relevant forum for having the case against him dismissed.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh told Fawad’s counsel that his client’s arrest was not “illegal” as the police had followed the rules and procedures re-quired for detaining the former minister.
Fawad was arrested from his residence earlier in the day after he publicly “threatened” the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a media talk outside Imran Khan’s residence in Zaman Park a day ago.
The LHC had ordered authorities to present Fawad before it in response to a petition filed by Fawad’s cousin, Nabeel Shehzad, for the “recovery” of the former federal minister.
The petitioner had filed a habeas corpus plea and urged the court to “recover” the PTI leader after the Islamabad police acquired his transitory re-mand. He also appealed to the court to stop any illegal action against the PTI leader.
Justice Sheikh, while hearing the plea, had ordered the authorities to present the PTI leader before the court by 1:30pm. The time was later extended to 2pm, but the authorities failed to produce Fawad before LHC. Then, the court again told the authorities to produce Fawad at 6pm, but they failed to follow the orders.
Interestingly, the orders were issued after a local court of Lahore had approved Fawad’s transitory remand in a sedition case filed against him in Is-lamabad on the election commission’s complaint.
In his tweet, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that the country has been turned into a “banana republic”, as he expressed displeasure over the ex-federal minister’s arrest.
“Fawad’s arrest on his apt description of the CEC leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pak[istan] has become a banana republic devoid of rule of law.”
“We must stand up for our fundamental rights now to save Pak’s drift towards a point of no return,” the former federal minister added.
Several party leaders also condemned the detention of Fawad. PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi slammed the government over the arrest.
“Pakistan has become a lawless state at the hands of these lawbreaking lawmakers and corrupt law enforcement officers,” he tweeted. PTI leader Asad Umar claimed that Fawad was arrested for speaking the truth.
Soon after the news of Chaudhry’s arrest made the rounds on social media, a number of senior journalists, political analysts and civil society mem-bers took to Twitter to voice their concern over the detention of the former information minister and called upon the government to shun political escala-tion.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas questioned the rationale behind Chaudhry’s arrest, asking: “What have they achieved so far in the cases of Azam Swati, Shahbaz Gill or in the cases against journalists?”
He opined that it had historically been proven that such actions eventually backfired on the government.
Tabadlab chief executive and political commentator Mosharraf Zaidi recalled that Chaudhry had “celebrated numerous senseless arrests and jailings of his political opponents” when in power, however, he called out the government for its latest move, urging “stop this madness”.
It was shameful then and now, said Zaidi, adding the PTI leader must be released immediately. He also called for elections to be held in the country.
Journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi also called out the government for filing a sedition charge against Chaudhry, saying his statement targeting the ECP members did not warrant such a heinous charge.
“When you’re throwing every law on the books, it smells of political revenge and overreach,” Shamsi said in a tweet.
Political analyst Michael Kugelman was also critical of the government’s move to book the PTI leader under different charges.
“If Islamabad fought inflation and debt with as much rigour as it is fighting the opposition, it would have vanquished the economic crisis many moons ago,” Kugelman tweeted.
Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that the ECP has become so “touchy” that it is filing police complaints over politicians’ state-ments. “Such actions will damage what is left of its reputation.”
He asked that when it has powers of contempt, “why get him arrested by the police”? “Is the election commission now a sensitive institution?”
Senior journalist Mubashir Zaidi was also among those calling for the release of PTI’s Chaudhry. “Why do illegal arrests occur through vehicles without number plates?” Zaidi asked sarcastically.

Later, district and sessions court in Islamabad Wednesday night approved a two-day physical remand of Fawad Chaudhry.

The Islamabad Police had sought an eight-day physical remand of the PTI leader, however, the court did not approve their request. The former federal minister has vehemently denied all charges and demanded the case’s dismissal.

Fawad’s lawyers told the court that the charges were politically motivated and since the PTI leader made the state-ments in Lahore, his case should have been registered in the city and not Islamabad.