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Unexpected Arrest of a PTI Leader Triggers Major Concerns Among Political Circles

© AP Photo / Anjum NaveedFawad Chaudhry, center, a leader of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's party talks to media outside the Election Commission head office after the decision of Khan's disqualification, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.
Fawad Chaudhry, center, a leader of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's party talks to media outside the Election Commission head office after the decision of Khan's disqualification, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 27.01.2023
Sputnik spoke to politicians and diplomats on the ground and abroad to get some clarification on the events.
Pakistan’s former information minister, a close associate of ex-PM Imran Khan, was taken into custody early Wednesday morning. His phone was confiscated and, according to his wife, he was taken without an arrest warrant.
In an interview with GNN channel, Fawad Chaudry’s wife said that "neither do we know where they took Fawad, nor if he is being tortured," stressing she had no idea if he was actually in custody because no arrest warrant was issued.

"I don't know whether those people were police officers or not," she said, adding that "even thieves can wear uniforms. We are also not being given any details of the FIR registered against him."

She termed the arrest of her husband an "abduction" and vowed to fight the move in court.

What Happened to Fawad Chaudhry?

Fawad Chaudhry was arrested outside his residence in Lahore early Wednesday morning, and his phone was seized.
A FIR (first information report) was launched against him at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station for "inciting violence against a constitutional institution."
The Lahore Cantt court allowed police to take Fawad to Islamabad. Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) dismissed the plea challenging Fawad’s arrest.
Former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) delivers a speech behind bullet proof glass shield during an anti-government rally in Rawalpindi on November 26, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.01.2023
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Arrest Warrants Issued for Imran Khan and Top PTI Party Members
On Thursday morning, reports appeared suggesting that an Islamabad court had approved Fawad's two-day physical remand, also known as pre-trial detention.
During his arrest, Fawad reportedly said that if criticism was rebellion, then the entire nation "should rebel."
"I am a senior lawyer, a parliamentarian and a spokesperson for the PTI. I am not a terrorist that I was detained in the Counter Terrorism Department," Fawad said, arguing that his arrest was illegal.
Fawad’s lawyers Ali Bukhari and Qaiser Imam also presented their arguments before the court.

Witch Hunt?

The arrest of the former information minister and senior leader of Imran Khan's party, PTI, has angered a lot of people in the country, including politicians.

In a comment to Sputnik, Shahzaman K. Niazi, a political candidate from PP85 Mianwali-1 said, "Political revenge is an old routine which has shown its colors whenever there is a governmental transition."

He further said that he and other members of the PTI have been prepared for this backlash and "will not stop fighting for a corruption-free government."
Niazi added, "We stand our ground and demand elections after 90 days as directed by the honorable High Court."
One overseas Pakistani, Dr. Shahid Rashid, told Sputnik that the arrest came as no surprise to him, alleging that the "establishment," including supreme court justices, was behind Chaudhry's detention and accusing the current government directly.
“This is the General Bajwa legacy that has been left behind, and there will be more similar cases taking place in Pakistan. PTI workers will be harassed, their leaders will be arrested. The present government of Shahbaz Sharif doesn’t care about these setbacks, whatever they are doing now is aimed at prolonging their government. They will keep doing it. Whatever is happening in Pakistan right now is unlawful and unconstitutional.”
Similarly, Pakistan's former Defense Attache to the UAE and political analyst Khalid Mahmood also shared his opinion with Sputnik, saying that the arrest of Fawad Chaudhry is "very unfair."

"It is possible that this is the way the current Pakistani government aims to 'dismember' the opposition," Mahmood suggested.

Condemning Fawad’s arrest, PTI chairman Imran Khan said that he will be holding a media talk on PTI’s YouTube channel.
"Fawad’s arrest on his apt description of the CEC leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pak has become a banana republic devoid of rule of law," Khan tweeted.
The former prime minister added that the nation must stand up for its fundamental rights now to save Pakistan's drift towards a point of no return. Furthermore, another PTI leader, Asad Umar said Chaudhry was "innocent", and should be released forthwith.
He further said that the government’s move will backfire while the PTI will be the ultimate beneficiary.
Ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari called the FIR registered against Fawad “ridiculous” and asked: “How is criticizing ECP decisions and even ECP members a call to violence against their families? SC decisions are criticized but ECP decisions can’t be?”

Political analyst Michael Kugelman was also critical of the government’s move. "If Islamabad fought inflation and debt with as much rigor as it is fighting the opposition, it would have vanquished the economic crisis many moons ago," he tweeted.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.