Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and former interior minister Shiekh Rashid was produced in an additional and sessions court on Thursday hours after he was arrested by Islamabad police.
Earlier in the day, his nephew Shiekh Raashid Shafique confirmed the arrest in an interview with a private news channel and said that the AML leader was arrested in a late-night raid from his residence in a private housing society in the federal capital.
The senior politician was arrested in connection to a complaint filed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Rawalpindi Vice President Raja Inayat Ur Rehman against Sheikh Rashid in Islamabad’s Aabpara Police Station for alleging that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was hatching a plot to assassinate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan.
The FIR registered against the ex-minister claimed that Rashid has attempted to defame the former president, thereby creating a permanent threat to Zardari and his family.
It added that the AML chief aimed to create conflict and enmity between the PPP and PTI by speaking of a “fabricated and baseless conspiracy” to disturb the country’s peace.
Read Police summon Rashid over assassination allegations against Zardari
In his application, the PPP leader had claimed that Sheikh Rashid has vital information regarding a “conspiracy” being hatched to assassinate the PTI chief.
It concluded that the “conspiracy should be foiled” by getting information from Rashid and arresting those spreading unrest in the country, under the authority of Section 150-151.
According to the police, the case application was received on January 30. After receiving the application, a report was filed against Sheikh Rashid and an inquiry was conducted under Section 196B, after which an FIR was registered.
‘Threat to life’
In a video statement shared by PTI on Twitter following Rashid’s arrest, the AML leader claimed that there is “a serious threat” to his life, adding that this “is punishment for his support for and solidarity with Imran Khan”.
He said that he has held 16 government positions, during which he has not had a single corruption case filed against him.
میری جان کو شدید خطرات لاحق ہے مجھے صرف اس چیز کی سزا دی جارہی ہے کیونکہ میں عمران خان کے ساتھ چٹان کی طرح کھڑ ہوں اور کھڑ رہوں گا ۔ شیخ رشید کا بیان #SheikhRasheed pic.twitter.com/9LODKMBQb7
— PTI (@PTIofficial) February 2, 2023
In a separate statement, Sheikh Rashid said that with strength from God, even at the age of 70 years, he will be successful in ending the government run by “thieves”.
He maintained that if not this month, then in March or April, these “thieves will be captured and they will not be able to run from the country.”
Imran condemns arrest
PTI chief Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the arrest of Sheikh Rashid, referring to the caretaker government appointed by the “totally discredited ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan]” as “biased” and “vindictive”.
He questioned whether Pakistan can “afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when we have been bankrupted by the imported government?”.
Strongly condemn arrest of Sh Rasheed.Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive Caretaker govt appt by totally discredited ECP. Question is can Pak afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when we have been bankrupted by Imported Govt?
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 1, 2023
Earlier this week, Sheikh Rashid failed to appear before the Aabpra police after he was summoned for his claims regarding the PPP co-chairman’s involvement in a plot to eliminate PTI’s Imran Khan.
Sources said that the Aabpara police had summoned the AML chief at 5pm on Monday with instructions to provide evidence to substantiate the allegations he had levelled against Zardari so that action could be taken.
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However, Sheikh Rashid did not appear before the police. According to sources, the capital police had decided to give another chance to the former interior minister to present evidence.
A senior police officer told The Express Tribune that if Sheikh Rashid fails to provide the evidence, a case would be registered against him under Section 505 for deliberately spreading false rumours, instigating people against a person with an intention to harm (someone), and damaging one’s reputation.
He said that conviction under section 505 is seven years and it is a non-bailable offence.