Pakistani police on Thursday arrested former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed from his home for accusing ex-president Asif Ali Zardari of plotting to kill former prime minister Imran Khan.
An ally of Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Mr. Ahmed is the chief of Awami Muslim League (AML).
Confirming the incident, his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique said that the AML chief was arrested from his home in a private housing society in Islamabad.
He was arrested by Islamabad police in the early hours of Thursday in connection with remarks he made against former president Zardari, accusing him of hatching a “murder plot to eliminate PTI chief Imran Khan”.
He was arrested on a police complaint filed by Raja Inayat-ur-Rehman, a vice president of PPP Rawalpindi Division, wherein he said that the AML chief, in a television interview on January 27, alleged that Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Zardari got the assistance of some terrorists to kill Mr. Khan.
Mr. Khan also in a television address on January 27 had alleged that Mr. Zardari was behind a fresh assassination plot — a “plan C” — and a terror group had been engaged for the purpose. He offered no evidence to back up his accusation.
Mr. Sheikh Rashid in fact had repeated what Mr. Imran Khan had said in his television address.
Mr. Zardari rejected the allegations and also sent a legal notice to Mr. Khan to apologize and take back the accusations or a case of damages would be filed against him.
According to a video clip of the arrested leader, he alleged that police ransacked his house and thrashed domestic staffers while attempting to arrest him. He also vowed to challenge his arrest in the high court.
He also 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.
He claimed that lawyer Mian Tahir had secured his bail and went on to allege that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was behind the incident.
Reacting to the arrest, Mr. Khan said: “Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive caretaker government appointed by totally discredited the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan). The question is: can Pak afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when we have been bankrupted by imported government?” 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 on Wednesday summoned Ahmed to appear before it today in connection with the case. However, the Islamabad High Court 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, Mr. 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. Further hearing has been adjourned until February 6.
Mr. Sheikh Rashid served as interior minister when Khan was prime minister and claims that he has served 16 times as minister in various governments.
His arrest comes amid a raft of legal moves against PTI leaders and their allies. Last week, PTI’s senior leader Fawad Chaudhry was arrested for allegedly making threats against election commission members’ families. He was later released on bail. A sedition case was filed against former PTI lawmaker Shandana Gulzar Khan.