Islamabad court grants police 2-day physical remand of Sheikh RashidShakeel Qarar | Umer Burney Published February 2, 2023 Updated 30 minutes ago
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed after his arrest on Feb 2. — Photo provided by Shakeel Qarar
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed being brought to the Islamabad High Court on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
An Islamabad court on Thursday granted police two-day physical remand of Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and PTI ally Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, hours after the politician was arrested in connection with remarks he made against former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Ahmed was arrested on a police complaint filed by Raja Inayatur Rehman, the vice president of PPP Rawalpindi Division, wherein he said that the AML chief, in a television interview on Jan 27, alleged that Zardari got the assistance of some terrorists to plan Imran’s murder.
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 that a terror group had been engaged for the purpose. He offered no evidence to back up his accusation.
During the hearing today presided over by Judicial Magistrate Omar Shabbir, the police requested Ahmed’s eight-day physical remand while the prosecution also requested the politician’s physical remand.
The court announced the reserved verdict, granting the police 2-day physical remand of the AML chief.
The hearingAt the outset of the hearing, the prosecutor presented the case record in the court and the police requested the court for Ahmed’s eight-day remand.
The AML chief asked, “First, open my handcuffs.” He lamented, “I have been a minister 16 times. Why isn’t the handcuff being opened? They’ve put it on for the whole night.” Accepting his demand, the police opened the handcuffs.
Upon Prosecutor Adnan reading out the case registered against Ahmed, the judge asked, “Show me that sentence in the case where Section 120 is applicable.”
The prosecutor asserted, “Sheikh Rashid is creating danger for Asif Zardari’s family. According to the sections, Sheikh Rashid can be sentenced to seven years in jail and be fined.”
He argued, “Sheikh Rashid gave the statement that Asif Ali Zardari has conspired to kill Imran Khan. In Pakistan, people can be ready to slit throats at the smallest things.
“Imran Khan has been attacked previously as well. There has been an attempt to create incitement between the parties of Imran Khan and Asif Zardari. Asif Zardari and his family’s life is at risk.” The prosecutor then requested a physical remand of the AML chief.
The judge then asked, “Has Asif Zardari told you that he’s in danger?” The prosecutor responded that Ahmed has given the statement himself.
Prosecutor Adnan then closed his arguments by asserting that Ahmed’s voice-matching test needs to be conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and a photogrammetric test is needed as well, emphasising that they were “incredibly important” during the trial.
The early-morning arrestConfirming the arrest, 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 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 (IHC).
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”.
Islamabad police statementResponding to Ahmed’s claims, the Islamabad Police tweeted a clarification stating, “There were no children present at Sheikh Rashid’s home. Neither were any glasses broken nor anything was ransacked.”
It claimed the AML chief had misbehaved with police officials and used foul language against them. The police asserted neither Ahmed nor any employee present at his home was “mistreated in any way”.
It went on to “strongly condemn negative propaganda” and asked for “protests inside and outside the courts to be held in accordance with the law”.
The statement asserted that Ahmed “would not be hurt in any way” and the police had shown patience even after the AML chief’s misbehaviour.
The caseReacting to the arrest, the PTI chairman condemned the move. “Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive caretaker government appointed by [a] totally discredited ECP.
“Question is: can Pakistan afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when we have been bankrupted by [the] 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.
Islamabad Police had yesterday summoned Ahmed to appear before it today in connection with the case. However, the IHC suspended the notice.
The court also issued notices to the Islamabad police chief and asked him to nominate a senior officer who could apprise the high court of the facts related to the case. The former interior minister had claimed that he had “inside information of the murder conspiracy” and that the former president had allegedly hired “assassins to kill Imran Khan”.
In the petition, Sheikh Rashid challenged the notice issued to him by the local police and dubbed the notice as contradictory to different provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Further hearing has been adjourned until Feb 6.
By Wednesday afternoon, Ahmed’s nephew Rashid Shafique filed a contempt petition against Aabpara Station House Officer Ashfaq Warraich in the IHC, arguing that the respondent was directed by court vide to bring the entire record of the case and had also suspended the operation of the notice. He requested the court to hold him in contempt for “ignoring” the court’s orders.
On the wrong side of the lawThe arrest comes amid a raft of legal moves against PTI leaders and their allies. Last week, PTI Fawad Chaudhry was arrested for allegedly making threats against ECP members’ families. He later received bail. PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi said his Gujrat house was raided. A sedition case was filed against former PTI MNA Shandana Gulzar Khan. Imran Khan-leaning journalist Imran Riaz Khan was arrested today.
And before Sheikh Rashid’s arrest, his famed Lal Haveli residence was sealed by authorities.
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 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.