PTI leader arrested resulting in widespread backlash claiming intimidation
Pakistan and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In the early hours of the 25th of January 2023, Fawad Chaudhry, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), was reportedly arrested, sparking widespread outrage and discontent from journalists, politicians and Pakistani society. The arrest comes as a result of Chaudhry’s public censuring and criticism of Pakistan’s government, alleging they schemed to arrest Imran Khan, PTI chairman, and his participation in protest efforts aimed towards averting the government’s efforts to arrest Khan. Chaudhry’s arrest came as a result of a First Information Report (FIR) registration against him on the basis of an official from the Election Commission of Pakistan’s complaint. In this document, Chaudhry was accused of promotion of enmity between groups, criminal intimidation, statement conducing to public mischief and sedition. The Islamabad police further stated Chaudry attempted to incite violence against a constitutional institution and inflame the sentiments of people.
Despite this, reports state Chaudhry was taken from his home in vehicles with no number plates, and the government’s lawyer, and Chaudry’s counsel have both stated to not have his exact whereabouts. As reports have suggested Chaudhry was taken to Islamabad, particularly as Punjab Police have stated to not have him in custody, Chaudry’s counsel appealed to the Lahore High Court. Despite this Court confirming Chaudhry’s whereabouts were not known, with police failing to deliver him to the Court as requested by the preceding judge, the petition requesting the arrest to be considered illegal has been thrown out. The Lahore High Court determined the arrest was not illegal due to police compliance with rules and procedures for detainment, namely the registration of the case. Throughout the proceedings the judge ordered for the government counsel to ensure Chaudhry appeared in Court, without result, merely concluding with the allegation that the PTI leader was now in custody of the Islamabad police. This made Chaudry’s representative to suggest malice on the part of the police, and for the judge to dismiss the case stating the Islamabad High Court was now the competent authority for the petition.
Chaudry was ultimately brought before Lahore’s Cantt court by officials of the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department and police department. However, this did not stop the widespread criticism of such authorities. Numerous journalists, political commentators, analysts and former political leaders have expressed similar views - coinciding that the arrest is unfounded and a method of political control and censorship, particularly as the government has conducted previous arrests in a similar manner.
Sources and further reading:
- Press Trust of India. Pak opposition leader Fawad Chaudhry arrested for publicly censuring govt. (2023, 25 January). Business-standard.com. Retrieved 25 January 2023 from https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/pak-opposition-leader-fawad-chaudhry-arrested-for-publicly-censuring-govt-123012500302_1.html
- Ahmed Faraz & Shahid Husain. LHC dismisses plea seeking to overturn Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest. (2023, 25 January). Thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 25 January 2023 from https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1034043-fawad-chaudhry-arrested-after-nightlong-guard-outside-imran-khans-residence
- Shakeel Qarar and Rana Bilal. LHC dismisses plea challenging Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest. (2023, 25 January). Dawn.com. Retrieved 25 January 2023 from https://www.dawn.com/news/1733520/lhc-dismisses-plea-challenging-fawad-chaudhrys-arrest
Dawn.com. ‘Stop this madness’: Fawad’s arrest draws ire of journalists, analysts and politicians. (2023, 25 January). Dawn.com. Retrieved 25 January 2023 from https://www.dawn.com/news/1733540/stop-this-madness-fawads-arrest-draws-ire-of-journalists-analysts-and-politicians