The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Tuesday said that officials of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, involved in the “Karachi incident” have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting “overzealously”.
In a statement, the military’s media affairs wing said that the court of inquiry constituted to redress the grievances of the Sindh inspector general, on the orders of Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, has been completed.
“The court of inquiry has established that on the night of Oct 18/Oct 19, officers from Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and ISI sector Headquarters Karachi were considerably seized with the fall out of the desecration of Mazar-e-Quaid.
“They were under increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action as per the law. Assessing the response of police authorities against this developing yet volatile situation to be slow and wanting, in a charged environment, the concerned officers decided to act, rather overzealously,” the ISPR statement said.
“They were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to the misunderstanding between the two state institutions.
“Based on the recommendations of the court of inquiry, it has been decided to remove the concerned officers from their current assignments for further departmental proceedings and disposal at GHQ,” the statement added.
Last month, the ISPR said the Army chief had taken notice of and ordered an immediate inquiry into the “Karachi incident”.
At the time, the ISPR did not specify which incident it was referring to. However, the statement came minutes after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on Gen Bajwa and ISI Director General Faiz Hameed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PML-N leader retired Capt Mohammad Safdar in Karachi.
On October 19, Safdar, who was staying at a Karachi hotel with his wife — PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz — was arrested for “violating the sanctity of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum” a day after the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had staged a rally in the city.
Following Safdar’s arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register the first information report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum.
In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah confirmed to him that police was pressured into making the arrest. “When they (police) refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP],” Zubair had said.
Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh police chief was forcibly “taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign on the arrest orders”.
The Sindh chief minister had addressed a press conference later and said that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious “circumstances” that led to the early morning raid on Maryam’s hotel room and arrest of her husband, but defended the police action against Safdar once an FIR had been lodged against him.
However, the presser had failed to convince the police hierarchy that was in low morale following the episode and had applied for leaves en masse. Later, Sindh IGP Mushtaq Mahar had decided to defer his own leave for 10 days and ordered his officers to do the same after Gen Bajwa took notice of the incident, spoke to Bilawal over the phone and promised an immediate inquiry.
At the start of the month, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had said that the inquiry into the “alleged abduction” of the Sindh inspector general and additional inspector general, and the “storming of Maryam’s room” had not been made public despite Gen Bajwa’s “personal assurance”.
“Does this nation have the right to know the reasons for delay? The matter wasn’t so complicated to have taken more than few hours,” he had said on Twitter