Qureshi released, re-arrested, manhandled

RAWALPINDI: 00Like several other former ruling party leaders, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi witnessed fleeting freedom from Adiala Jail on Wednesday, only to be forcibly rearrested at the prison gate in connection with a rioting case.

On Dec 22, a three-member Supreme Court bench granted bail to Qureshi and PTI founder Imran Khan in a case concerning alleged misuse of a diplomatic cipher during the latter part of the PTI’s rule.  Qureshi had previously served as the foreign minister in former prime minister Imran’s cabinet.

Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner Hassan Waqar Cheema, on December 25, issued an executive order under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance to detain Qureshi for 15 days. Curiously, the deputy commissioner rescinded that order on Wednesday morning, leading to the PTI leader’s release from the prison by jail authorities.

However, a substantial police and Elite Force presence was already assembled outside the prison when the former foreign minister was set free.

Moments before his re-arrest, Qureshi addressed the media, asserting that although the Supreme Court granted him bail, he was being unlawfully detained once more. “This is an injustice against me; I am being targeted for political vengeance,” he stated.

Footage of the incident, widely circulated on social media, depicts policemen forcefully ushering the PTI leader towards an armored vehicle. Sources indicate that the police have arrested Qureshi under the country’s anti-terrorism law, implicating him in alleged involvement in attacks on military installations and memorials on May 9.

Police sources report that Shah Mahmood Qureshi is being held at Rawalpindi’s RA Bazar police station and is scheduled to be presented before a magistrate today (Thursday).

“Qureshi was initially to appear in an anti-terrorism court (ATC). However, due to the winter holidays, the ATC is closed, and the PTI leader will instead be presented in the duty judge’s court, where the police will seek his remand,” an official stated, requesting anonymity.

PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan condemned the re-arrest, affirming his intent to formally notify the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the vice chairman’s detention, especially as the election schedule has already been announced.

Addressing the media outside the jail, Qureshi’s daughter, Mehrbano, decried the treatment her father, the vice chairman of the country’s most popular party and a two-time former foreign minister, received.

“The disrespectful manner in which my father was arrested is distressing. As he attempted to speak to the media after his release, the police began to push him. It’s evident they don’t want Shah Mahmood Qureshi to speak out, as his presence and words incite passion among the people,” she remarked.

Mehrbano asserted that her father was a target of political vendetta. “It’s ludicrous how the judicial system is being mocked, despite the Supreme Court’s orders,” she added.

Qureshi’s lawyer, Taimur Malik, condemned the PTI leader’s humiliating arrest. “We intend to contest this incident in court. This is all political vendetta,” he concluded.

Interestingly the president, Dr Arif Alvi also condemned the re-arrest of the PTI leader in a post on micro-blogging site X. “Let us not become a state where human rights and dignity are trampled upon with impunity. Incidents of paper snatching, brutal action on protestors, and now treating an ex-foreign minister from two regimes in an undignified manner must draw the attention of the authorities.

“Detracting arguments that similar incidents have happened before do not cut ice because Pakistan must change, and if we as a nation agree, there is no better time than starting now,” he said.

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