Thursday, May 11, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Top Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar were taken into custody from Islamabad within 24 hours as the government tightened the noose around the party following countrywide protests against ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest.
Qureshi was arrested in the wee hours on Thursday after the police raided Gilgit-Baltidstan House in Islamabad under Section 3 of Maintenance of Public order (3MPO).
Islamabad Police spokesperson confirmed that scores of PTI leaders, including Qureshi, Umar, Fawad , Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Falak Naz Chitrali, Mussarat Jamshed Cheema, and Maleeka Bukhari, were arrested.
“All arrests were carried out after completing the legal requirements,” the spokesperson said, warning that more arrests are expected.
It should be noted that the former foreign minister was arrested by the police in cases of riots and arsons in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police sources said. However, before his arrest, the PTI leader encouraged party workers to continue their struggle for true freedom in the country.
"As a foreign minister of Pakistan, I defended Pakistan's interests at every forum. I have been in practical politics for 40 years," he said.
Qureshi added that he has no regrets and has not made any provocative statements that could lead to lawsuits. He was confident that the PTI's movement will reach its destination.
The PTI leader — who was second in line to Khan — expressed his grief and shock over around 50 casualties in the recent violent protests that erupted after the arrest of party chairman Khan in Islamabad.
He noted that a worthwhile cause requires sacrifices and the PTI and its workers will continue their struggle for such a worthy cause.
"All organisations, ticket holders, office-holders are requested not to lose heart and stay put in the field," he advised party cadres. "We have not taken the law into our hands before, and we will not do so in the future as well."
The PTI leader emphasised that the allegation of the Corps Commander Lahore incident is a false charge against him and Khan. He called upon the party activists to remain calm and stick to their cause.
Earlier when a police contingent arrived at his place, he recorded a statement, saying, "According to my information, the police have come to arrest me. I want to leave a message."
"The Tehreek-e-Insaf is a movement for real freedom, and everybody has contributed to it," he stressed. "Khan entrusted me with this responsibility. I have been trying to fulfill this responsibility, and I have shared it to the best of my ability."
Qureshi asked PTI workers to keep up their struggle for real freedom. "Remain on your marks in this great cause until Khan is released," he asserted.
On Wednesday, the top tier of PTI leadership, including PTI’s Secretary General Umar, ex-governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema and party's Senior Vice President Fawad, was arrested.
PTI’s senior leader Asad Umar was rounded up from the premises of the Islamabad High Court.
According to reports, nearly 1,000 PTI workers, including Cheema and Fawad have been arrested.
The former information minister was arrested under 16 MPO after he came out of the Supreme Court premises, where he remained holed up for almost the whole day to evade arrest.
According to police, so far, 1,386 PTI workers have been arrested in Punjab on the charges of vandalism, violence and arson of public and private properties.
During the protests, the statement added, more than 145 police officers and officials have been wounded across Punjab meanwhile 69 vehicles used by Punjab Police were vandalised and set on fire.