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Freedom of PTI leaders proves short-lived


The release of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders on bail took an unforeseen twist on Tuesday as law enforcement authorities swiftly intervened, curtailing their newfound freedom.
The political arena experienced a tumultuous series of events as influential PTI figures, such as former human rights minister Shireen Mazari and Senator Falak Naz, were promptly re-arrested immediately after their court-ordered release from Adiala jail.
Separately, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry had to run back to capital’s high court to take refuge after getting bail in a case as the police waited for him outside the court.
Social and mainstream media throughout the day was abuzz with footage of Chaudhry jumping out of his vehicle and running back to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to avoid arrest.
Later on, the IHC granted Chaudhry two-day protective bail in all cases and barred the authorities concerned from arresting him from within the limits of the capital till May 17.
However, Chaudhry fearing arrest remained inside IHC premises till midnight as the police was present outside the court.
Talking to media, Chaudhry condemned the events of May 9, particularly mentioning vandalism at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and Lahore Corps Commander’s residence.
“The events were shameful,” he said, stressing that an inquiry should be conducted into the matter and those found involved should be taken to task, irrespective of whether they were from the PTI or not.
Apart from the PTI leaders who were taken into custody again, several other PTI stalwarts, including former minister of state for interior Shehryar Afridi and his wife, were arrested in an ongoing crackdown against the former ruling party’s leadership and workers.
The unexpected chain of events has unfolded just days after a series of attacks on key civilian and military installations on May 9 following the arrest of PTI Chairman and former premier Imran Khan by Rangers from the premises of IHC in a graft case.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested the PTI chief from IHC over allegations of having looted Rs50 billion along with a property tycoon from the national treasury and getting the Al-Qadir University Trust registered on 450-kanal of land.
Soon after the arrest, protesters took to the streets, key government and military buildings were attacked, ransacked and torched, several people lost their lives, dozens more were injured and hundreds of PTI supporters were detained, including key PTI leaders, by the law enforcers.
Afridi’s arrest marks the latest development in a string of apprehensions involving PTI leadership. In the aftermath of widespread rioting and protests following Imran’s arrest, several party leaders including Chaudhry, Asad Umar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Mazari, Maleeka Bukhari and Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan, among others, have been taken into custody.
The PTI leaders have been arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) since May 9 when the protestors barged into the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Corps Commander House, which was badly vandalised and burnt, in Lahore, torched Radio Pakistan building in Peshawar, among other structures.
Soon after the protests, PTI leaders and workers landed in hot waters as not only they were arrested but country’s civil and military leadership vowed to try those involved in ransacking the military installations under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act.
The civil-military leadership has also decided to observe May 9 as “Black Day” at the national level.
On Tuesday, the daughter of former human rights minister, Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, revealed in a tweet that her mother and Senator Falak Naz were arrested by the police right after they were released from Adiala jail.
“Senator Falak Naz’s family and I (and our lawyer) were waiting outside Adiala jail to receive ama (my mother) and (Senator) Falak Naz. Islamabad Police arrested them from outside the jail while we were waiting outside the exit they told us to wait at,” Imaan said in a tweet.
“We have no idea where they have been taken,” she added.
Prior to that, PTI Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s official Twitter account revealed that “ex-interior minister Shehryar Afridi has been picked up this time, not alone but along with his wife who has no political affiliation. This is happening under the current fascist regime”.
Amid arrests and rearrests, PTI chairman has alleged that people who had guns and committed arson during the May 9 protests against his arrest were “planted amongst the demonstrators”, saying he has consistently told PTI workers that, whatever the provocation, they must only hold peaceful protests.
Imran has also green-lighted mass mobilisation campaign pertaining to the elections, maintaining he would address a public gathering in Muridke on May 18.

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