Tuesday, May 23, 2023
PML-Q chief tried intervening in issue but stepped back after army's seeing stance.
ISLAMABAD: Amid a crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists following the attacks on military installations, Khadija Shah — the granddaughter of a former army chief — remains elusive as the Punjab Police continue to search for her.
Khadija, a prime suspect in the case, continues to evade arrest, despite her husband, Jehanzeb Amin being in the police's custody. The police had also arrested Salman Shah, the former finance minister, briefly before freeing him.
Jehanzeb was not only wanted in connection with the defence-installations attacks but is also a proclaimed offender in a separate case involving a bogus cheque worth Rs8.3 million.
His current predicament puts him in an uncomfortable situation, as his freedom is contingent upon the arrest of his wife. Failure to apprehend Khadija would result in Jehanzeb’s imprisonment in the bogus cheque case, according to officials familiar with the ongoing developments disclosed to The News. It is likely that his swift cooperation upon initial arrest was driven by this impending consequence.
Acting on a tip-off from Jehanzeb, the police conducted a raid on an apartment in Gulberg, but Khadija managed to escape just minutes before the raiding party’s arrival. Leaked CCTV footage captured her fleeing the building through the basement parking area.
Interestingly, the apartment where she had been hiding belongs to Mehar Tareen, the daughter of Jehangir Tareen, and her husband, Umar Sheikh. Although present during the raid, the couple’s attempt to assist Khadija proved futile.
Awn Chaudhry, a special assistant to the prime minister, and a close confidante of Tareen, made unsuccessful efforts to intervene with the police on her behalf.
While Khadija’s case has garnered attention due to her refusal to surrender, it also exposes the intricate connections within the elites, transcending political affiliations.
Apart from the Tareen family, other influential individuals have also been approached in an endeavour to secure relief for Khadija. Among them is Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, who was a witness in Khadija’s nikah. However, after he discovered that the army maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards offenders, treating all individuals equally without discrimination.
Sirmed Amin, Khadija’s father-in-law and an old friend of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held multiple meetings with him, including a recent one on Monday. However, the prime minister’s efforts to provide assistance proved fruitless, as he could only instruct the police to handle the matter in accordance with the law.
According to a reliable police official, the army has unequivocally stated that no offenders will escape punishment. During a recent visit to Lahore, Army Chief Gen Asim Munir commended the police for their actions, affirming that there would be no leniency towards any culprits involved. He emphasised that arrests should be made lawfully and without disrespecting the female accused.
Khadija, a US citizen, has released several audio messages proclaiming her innocence, maintaining that she was merely present outside the corps commander’s house and played no part in the acts of ransacking.