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Pakistan: Former Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Imran Khan’s close ally, arrested from Rawalpindi

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Pakistan's former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed
Image Source : PTI Pakistan’s former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

Former Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is a key ally of ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has been arrested by authorities from his residence in Rawalpindi, according to his lawyer.

The 72-year-old Awami Muslim League (AML) leader was arrested from his residence in Rawalpindi by men clad in plain clothes and was transferred to an undisclosed location, Sheikh Rashid’s counsel told Dawn. Rasheed’s nephew Sheikh Shakir and houseworker Sheikh Imran have also been arrested.

“I request the top judiciary to take notice of the arrest of a senior politician as he was not wanted in any case,” said the former minister’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafiq in a video message. The details of the charges against the AML leader have not been revealed as of now.

In a post on X platform, the PTI condemned Rashid’s arrest and blamed the government of fuelling “political victimisation and fascism”. “This is yet another episode of mockery of law in Pakistan. Despite a caretaker government in place the fascism, and blatant violation of human rights continues!” it said.

Earlier in June, Rashid alleged that the Islamabad police broke into his house and beat his servants. In a second incident, a “force clad in plain clothes” tortured his employees in his Rawalpindi residence, claimed the AML leader.

Details indicate that the former interior minister was told to show up in front of the anti-corruption watchdog. He had earlier ‘skipped’ the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) hearing on May 24 probing the settlement of 190 million pounds from the United Kingdom.

The AML leader’s arrest comes as the state cracks down on the PTI and its supporters over the violent riots in May 9 that took place after Imran Khan’s arrest. Several state buildings and military residences were vandalised by PTI workers.

What happened on May 9?

On May 9, the supporters of Imran Khan’s party vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.

The violent protests came in wake of Khan’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges. He was later released on bail. The violence elicited a strong reaction from the government and military with vows of taking action against the culprits, leading to an ongoing crackdown against those involved. Law enforcement agencies arrested over 10,000 workers of Khan’s Pakistan party across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab.

Former PM Shehbaz Sharif has repeatedly targeted Imran Khan over the violence, accusing him of staging a “rebellion against the army and the state”. Khan is currently behind bars after being convicted in the Toshakhana corruption case.

(with agency input)

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