New Delhi/Islamabad, October 21
In a major show of open defiance against Pakistan Army, police officers in Karachi have threatened to go on mass leave after the Sindh Police chief was allegedly kidnapped and coerced to act against PML(N) Vice President Marayam Nawaz Sharif.
Sources in Islamabad said that Pakistan is rapidly slipping into a civil war-like situation with the ongoing tussle between the opposition parties and the Army.
In Karachi in Sindh province, headed by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Sindh Police in a major show of defiance against the Pakistan Army have threatened to go on leave after they were pressurised to arrest PML(N) Vice President Marayam Nawaz's husband Safdar Awan.
Sources said that Sindh IGP Mushtaq Mahar and at least two additional inspector generals, seven deputy inspector generals and six senior superintendents of Sindh Police on Tuesday applied for leave in order to "come out of the shock" caused by the "episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar".
The Sindh Police on Monday had arrested Safdar Awan, the husband of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and the son-in-law of exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, from a hotel in Karachi.
The arrest came just hours after the PML(N) Vice President criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan's government as a massive rally of People's Democratic Movement (PDM) -- an alliance of 11 opposition political parties which have joined hands to challenge the Imran Khan government backed by the Pakistan Army. He was later released on bail.
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has ordered an inquiry into Safdar Awan's arrest after Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari questioned the Army and the ISI about the incident in a tweet.
Pakistani media quoted Bilawal alleging that the Sindh Police chief was abducted by Pakistan Army and its intelligence wing for a few hours before Safdar Awan was arrested. Bilawal insinuated that Pakistan military had pressurised the Sindh Police to act against Safdar Awan.
The Dawn newspaper reported that 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 Sindh Inspector General of Police, Mushtaq Mahar, was kidnapped and forced to register an FIR against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's mausoleum.
The leave applications submitted by Sindh Police officers to IGP Mahar said that it had become hard for them to "discharge duties in a professional manner" due to the stress caused by Safdar's arrest.
"The recent episode of registration of FIR against Capt (R) Safdar in which the police high command has not only been ridiculed and mishandled, but all ranks of Sindh Police have been demoralised and shocked. In such stressful situation, it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner," the letters read.
All the letters were identical.
However, the tense situation in the province forced IGP Mahar to defer his own leave as he ordered his officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days.
In a tweet, the Sindh police said the decision was taken "in the larger national interest" and pending the conclusion of the inquiry into how the arrest of PML(N) leader Safdar unfolded. IANS
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