A court in Pakistan’s capital has ordered an investigation into the controversial arrest of a former human rights minister over a decades-old land dispute.
Chief Justice Ather Minallah of the Islamabad High Court late Saturday ordered the probe in response to a petition from the daughter of ex-minister Shireen Mazari.
Mazari, who served in the cabinet-level position under former Prime Minister Imran Khan, was arrested by police near her Islamabad home on Friday.
Minallah questioned the decision by officials in Islamabad to allow police from a Punjab provincial district to make the arrest in the capital.
Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in Khan’s administration, alleged Mazari – the senior leader in Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party – had been politically targeted by the new administration of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif under the guise of a land dispute dating back to 1972.
I want to thank everyone who supported me when I was picked up illegally, dragged out of the car with no warrant. My cell was snatched! My driver was blindfolded & beaten up. I was being driven on the Motorway to some place in Punjab! Thankfully I am back home safe with my family
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) May 21, 2022
Hours after Mazari’s arrest, Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz of Punjab province ordered her release and late Saturday she was brought to the Islamabad court for a hearing.
After she was released, Mazari in a series of tweets said her mobile phone was taken and her driver beaten and blindfolded.
“I want to thank the Chief Justice Islamabad High Court for taking timely notice. I have always opposed enforced disappearances and now I know personally what the families of the disappeared go through,” she said.
Former Prime Minister Khan condemned Mazari’s arrest, accusing the Sharif-led government of being a “fascist regime”.
“Shireen is strong and fearless, if the imported govt thinks it can coerce her by this fascism, they have miscalculated!” he said on Twitter.
Our senior party leader Shireen Mazari has reportedly been violently abducted from outside her house by this fascist regime.
Shireen is strong and fearless, if the imported govt thinks it can coerce her by this fascism, they have miscalculated! 1/2#ReleaseDrMazari
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 21, 2022
Mazari has been critical of Sharif’s government on social media since Khan’s government was toppled in a no-confidence vote in parliament last month.
Khan, 69, who led the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 220 million people for three and a half years, had accused the United States of backing a conspiracy to remove him.
Many of PTI’s legislators resigned from the body’s lower house in protest and Khan is mobilising supporters through huge public rallies across the country to pressure the government into an early election.