Pakistan opposition chief ‘arrested’ after anti-government rally | Pakistan
Muhammad Safdar of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party was arrested, says his wife Maryam Nawaz, hours after the second major opposition rally.
Muhammad Safdar, a leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, was arrested at his hotel in the southern city of Karachi, said his wife, Maryam Nawaz, also a PML-N leader.
Safdar’s arrest early Monday morning followed a rally by an alliance of opposition parties that attracted tens of thousands of people in the country’s largest city on Sunday.
“The police broke into my room door at the hotel I was in Karachi and arrested it [Muhammad] Safdar, ”tweeted Maryam, daughter and political heir of three-time Prime Minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.
“I was in the room and was sleeping when you came in,” she said.
I was in the room and was sleeping when they came in. Https://t.co/1gMEHHUnPx
– Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) October 19, 2020
It was not immediately clear what charges Safdar had been arrested on, but he was booked by police after chanting anti-government slogans during a visit to the mausoleum of Pakistani founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s rally on Sunday.
A provincial government spokesman said the police did not respond to their orders, Reuters news agency reported.
The opposition is building momentum against Khan
The rally in Karachi was the second organized by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of 11 opposition parties. The first took place on Friday in the northeastern city of Gujranwala.
The rallies are part of a campaign to oust Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, whom opposition parties have accused of being used by the military in a rigged 2018 election.
Supporters of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties, listen to their leaders during an anti-government rally in Karachi [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]Speaking over a video link from London to the Gujranwala meeting, Sharif accused Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa of rigging the 2018 elections and planning its removal in 2017.
In response, Khan claimed that Sharif’s charge against the army was part of a conspiracy at the behest of India.
Sharif is already being charged with inciting the military for meddling in politics.
Maryam said her party is not anti-military, but “if you say we will respect those who would crush the ballots under their boots, that will not happen.”
The military, which refuses to meddle in politics or electoral errors, has yet to respond specifically to Sharif’s allegations.
The opposition rallies came when the Pakistani economy – which had already recovered before the global pandemic – was struggling with double-digit inflation and negative growth, which Khan’s opponents blame his government for.
“You robbed people of jobs. They took food away from people twice a day, ”Maryam said of Khan while addressing the rally.
Asad Hashim from Al Jazeera contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.