Wednesday, 10 August, 2022
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Police-vs-Army crisis in Pakistan, Sindh cops revolt as IG ‘abducted’ to sign arrest warrant

Army chief orders probe after Sindh police’s top officers applied for mass leave saying IG Mushtaq Mahar was ‘abducted’ to sign arrest warrant for Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law.

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New Delhi: A major crisis is brewing in Pakistan, with the police in the Sindh province putting up a determined fight against the all-powerful military for “abducting” its chief, Inspector General Mushtaq Mahar, and forcibly getting his signature on the arrest warrant of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain Safdar Awan (retd).

The situation is so tense that Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa had to step in and order an inquiry to prevent the Sindh police from going on mass protest leave.

Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on Pakistan’s military affairs, told ThePrint that the Sindh police was finally tired of excessive intervention by the military.

“I would say the Sindh police got tired, but then the Sindh government may have encouraged the police to take this stand,” Siddiqa said. The Sindh government is ruled by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

This is one of the rare occasions in Pakistan when the military has been challenged. Sushant Sareen, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in India, said the kind of protest seen from the Sindh police is unprecedented.

“Nobody expected this. Also, Bajwa’s announcement of an inquiry either reveals a complete breakdown of the Army’s chain of command, or that it is looking for a scapegoat,” Sareen said.

Former Indian envoy to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan said it is unclear what happened on the night when the IG is said to have been abducted.

“But it shows that Nawaz Sharif’s fiery rhetoric against the chief of army staff and generals has brought to the surface a certain latent hostility that is always there in Pakistan against Army high-handedness,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia (retd), India’s former director general of military operations, added that the Pakistan Army has become too overbearing in terms of domestic and international politics, as well as economics.

“Gen. Bajwa has been dictating all Pakistan policies, including when Imran Khan went to the US. I think this controversy will die down, but the simmering sentiments regarding the Army’s behaviour will remain. The Sindh police’s actions reveal a major fault line between law enforcement and the Pakistan Army,” he said.

Also read: Pakistan Army can’t risk controversy with Nawaz Sharif, sacrificing Imran Khan easier

How the crisis escalated

A political crisis has been looming in Pakistan over the last several days, with former PM Nawaz Sharif launching an all-out attack against the army’s top brass — army chief Gen. Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen. Faiz Hameed — from London.

Sharif addressed the first public rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a newly-formed opposition alliance, in Gujranwala via video link from London on 17 October, accusing the generals of rigging elections, removing his government, muzzling the media, pressurising the judiciary, and victimising opposition politicians.

This soon translated into massive protests against the Imran Khan government. The protests intensified in Karachi, with Sharif’s daughter Maryam and PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari coming together.

Then, Maryam Nawaz’s husband Safdar Awan, a retired army captain, was arrested from a hotel room in Karachi Sunday when the Pakistani Rangers — the country’s equivalent of India’s Border Security Force — barged into their hotel room at night.

Safdar’s arrest came a day after he raised slogans at Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum, which allegedly hurt the sanctity of the ‘holy’ place. According to the FIR obtained by Dawn newspaper, he was charged under sections of the Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance) Ordinance, 1971. The FIR was also lodged against Maryam Nawaz Sharif and 200 others who were present at the mausoleum.

On Monday, Maryam alleged that the police “barged” into their hotel room in Karachi while she was sleeping, and tweeted a video of a broken door handle.

Ali Zaidi, a minister in Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, responded by saying: “Maryam [is] once again lying that the hotel door was broken.”

However, after Safdar’s arrest, a purported voice recording of former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair surfaced, alleging that the Sindh police chief was kidnapped by the Rangers and forced to register an FIR against Safdar, Maryam and others. The recording was circulated by a journalist, reported Dawn.

In a statement Monday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the arrest and said he was shocked to hear about the incident. He added that the manner in which the arrest was made went against the traditions of Sindh.

Though Safdar was released on bail Monday, there was public outrage over the abduction of the Sindh police chief by Pakistan Rangers.

Maryam told the media: “The police chief’s phones were seized. He was taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign the arrest orders.”

Police officers apply for leave, Army chief steps in

The IG, Mushtaq Mahar, went on a protest leave, and at least two additional inspectors general, seven deputy inspectors general and six senior superintendents of Sindh police also applied for leave Tuesday in order to “come out of… shock” caused by the “episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar”, Dawn reported.

Following this spate of leave applications, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of late former PM Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari, spoke to both Gen. Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Hameed, asking them to probe the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Safdar, and “investigate your institution [and] how it is operating in this province”.

The military’s propaganda arm ISPR then issued a statement saying Gen. Bajwa had taken notice of the “Karachi incident” and ordered an immediate inquiry.

Following this, in a late night statement Tuesday, Sindh IG Mahar decided to defer his own leave and ordered his officers to set aside their applications for ten days “in the larger national interest”, and pending the inquiry into how Safdar was arrested.

The Sindh police also said it was grateful to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah “for coming to the IG House and showing solidarity with the police leadership”.

Also read: Pakistan Army emotionally blackmails its population with its own idea of India


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  1. All these poor unemployed Pakistani authors sitting in foreign lands……only way these short sighted analysts can get published if they bring some sensation……………Just heard PPP leader on TV…………….it is crystal clear that PPP govt does not want to lose their govt of Sindh………….he was profusely thanking Pakistan army chief………..Sindh police chief was also thanking Pakistan army chief………………Bilawal Bhutto is not stupid like Maryam Nawaz …..and is positioning himself as future PM of Pakistan & managing relations with Pakistan military………….quite well !!!

    • Very True. Some authors sitting in Foriegn land talk rubbish. No report of firing between police & army as për pak media, BBC. Falsehood manufacturers/Gpori media spreading massive lies to divert attention of our hundreds millions of starving people, millions of educated Jobless, 200 millions living in dirty slums. It looks Shekhar Gupta getting converted to Saffron Andh bhakat

    • Very True. Too much falsehood stories/false propaganda being planted by certain people sitting abroad. As per Pak media, BBC, no firing took place between Police & PK army as propagated by Foriegn Andhbhakats.

  2. Pakistan – change seems to be in the offing
    Unrest in the Sindh province of Pakistan does not seem quite healthy for the armed forces as well as the federal government in the Islamic Republic. The province seems to be burning and the strain administrative relationship between the Sindh police and the Pakistani army is an ominous signal to the future of the Islamic state of South Asia. It would be wrong to blame the present federal government in Pakistan entirely for this problem although they are partly responsible nevertheless there remain other aspects purely political that cannot be overlooked or ignored. The Imran Khan government in that country seems to be heading towards instability that is bound to undermine the civilian governance in The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
    The news channels in Pakistan and those in the other parts of the world seem to indicate that Pakistan army has moved in sue-motto in the arena of Sindh. This does not seem to be an action approved by the elected federal government hence projects the high handedness of the army trying to control the provincial administration in this pretext. Although the arrest of Captain Safdar Awan who is the husband of the Pakistan Muslim League [Nawaz] (P.M.L. [N]) Mohtarma Maryam Nawaz and the son-in-law Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif; the former prime minister of Pakistan; by the Sindh police has been the reason behind this unrest but the stepping in of the Pakistan army has been seen as a move not very acceptable rather high handed. The Pakistan Muslim League [Nawaz] has been blaming the federal government whom they feel has acted at the behest of Pakistan People’s Party that has a stronghold in the Sindh province. These allegations and counter-allegations that are the normal process in politics happen to distort facts and present a murky picture of the political happening in the state. It seems quite preposterous that the Tehrik-e-Insaaf party that is now ruling Pakistan should come in support of Pakistan People’s Party nevertheless the fact that the provincial government in Sindh is being led by this political party hence there is every possibility that the police in the province has acted on the directions of the provincial government. However the moving in of the army in the province and the Inspector General of Police of Sindh having been taken to an unknown destination makes the entire issue quite perplexing and is an indication that the federal government in Pakistan is probably trying to kill two birds with a single stone.
    Pakistan’s army and the style of actions being initiated by their army chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa seem to indicate that the civilian government in the nation should play the second fiddle that is in tune with those being played by their army. The province seems to be moving in towards political instability with the growing unrest unless it is checked in time. There has been a direct tele-conversation between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; who is the chairman of Pakistan People’s Party; and the general with regard to the developments in Sindh and instructions having been given to Karachi Core Commander by their army chief to conduct an inquiry do indicate the influence the army as an institution has over the government machinery. It would not be fair to arrive at any conclusion or make conjectures of any kind however there seems to be a change in the offing.
    As a nation Pakistan has been quite different where their army has been in control of the state affairs and civilian establishments have been playing the role of an administrative underdog who must abide by the advice of the military establishment. Thus the top dog in the political order will be the person or political party who is in the good books of their army. This perception holds true despite the fact that elected governments in Pakistan have been on the ruling chair since 2008 but the political wicket is still not quite firm as needed in a democracy. Democracy continues to move on a precarious path that can get into difficulty or may capsize or turn turtle. Now with the kind of developments taking place in Sindh can reach the dead end only to get toppled by yet another army coup or the removal of the provincial government in Sindh as well as the federal government in Pakistan. Critics have always stated that the army owns the nation that is Pakistan hence the wishes of the institution will play the primary role in framing the future of the Islamic state where change seems to be in the offing.

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