Dramatic events

 
October 22, 2020

The consequences of actions taken without due thought and consideration are before us. Following the arrest of Captain Safdar in Karachi, under complaint of a man who was later found – as per...

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The consequences of actions taken without due thought and consideration are before us. Following the arrest of Captain Safdar in Karachi, under complaint of a man who was later found – as per the Sindh government's claims – not to have been present at the mausoleum at the time, the IG Sindh and a series of senior and junior police officers decided to ask for 60-days leave in protest against what they call is the shocking way the Sindh Police was treated during the whole Safdar episode. In a visibly angry press conference, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the process of the arrest, and the treatment the Sindh government and the Sindh Police say the IG went through. The PPP head also appealed to the army and ISI chiefs to conduct a probe to know the identity of those who allegedly laid siege to the house of the Sindh IG and then took him to an undisclosed location.

The question of course is why this happened and what triggered it. We know that Captain Safdar's arrest had already set a tone of even more distrust between the PDM and the ruling structures. We know that there was talk about the Sindh government and the PPP not addressing the issue head-on. We also know that the PDM's Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazlur Rahman had dismissed any idea that the Sindh government was behind Safdar's arrest. Moreover, we know that the way Safdar was arrested – with law-enforcement personnel breaking into his room – was beyond justification. What then were the unknowns? For one, there had been opacity regarding the IG Sindh's 'abduction', since the Sindh government hadn't come out and properly said it – till Bilawal Bhutto's press conference. The most glaring unknown are the people who are alleged to have taken the IG away and apparently led to the arrest too. So amidst opposition rallies, rising cases of the coronavirus, an already plunging economy and virtually zero press freedom, the country witnessed a most dramatic set of events the past two days.

Some would say it is most uncommon to see the country's civilian law enforcement respond with such a sense of self-worth, and in that the Sindh Police may just have set a precedent. Almost immediately after Bilawal Bhutto's press conference, which came as a response to the Sindh Police's letters asking for leave, COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered an inquiry into the Karachi incident. The main question of course is: what happened early Monday morning and who gave the orders. The situation is quite unprecedented, which is why it is even stranger that the PM is completely absent from the conversation – as has been pointed out by the opposition. We have a pretty serious issue at hand, one which any sitting government should try and resolve as soon as possible. It is not a small matter: allegations that the head of civilian law enforcement in a province was 'abducted' or coerced into acting a certain way. The secrecy surrounding it all makes it even murkier. Which is why we hope the inquiries ordered will be impartial and most of all transparent since much of what happens behind closed doors in this government is never made public to people.



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