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Sheikh Rashid arrested for levelling allegations against Asif Zardari

Police say arrested Rashid from Muree Motorway; AML chief says he's been "wronged"; Imran condemns arrest

By Ahmed Subhan & Shabbir Dar
February 02, 2023
AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks to journalists in Islamabad on February 2, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews
AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks to journalists in Islamabad on February 2, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid has been arrested from Murree Motorway, police confirmed in Thursday's early hours, a move that drew strong criticism from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who has close relations with the ex-interior minister.

The former interior minister and his nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, however, contradicted the police's version and said that the authorities took him into custody from his house and not the motorway.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Rawalpindi Division President Raja Inayat Ur Rehman had filed a case against Rashid in Islamabad's Aabpara Police Station for alleging that former president Asif Ali Zardari was hatching a plot to assassinate the PTI chief.

The PTI chairman had in January alleged that Zardari was hatching as well as financing an assassination plot against him for which the ex-president had hired "terrorists".

"...there's a Plan C. Asif Zardari is behind it. He has amassed a lot of money through corruption and he has invested that money in terrorists and hired a militant organisation," the PTI chief had alleged. However, the PPP strongly denied the claim and served a legal notice to Khan.

Initially, the Muree Police had arrested him and later they handed him over to the Islamabad Police, who shifted him to the Aabpara Police Station, where the case has been registered.

Rashid is also embattled in another case of "illegal occupation" as the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had sealed Lal Haveli — his residence — and five adjoining units on January 30. On the same day, the Lahore High Court ordered to de-seal the property.

The former minister was shifted to the Secretariat police station after his medical checkup at the Polyclinic hospital. 

'100 to 200 armed people'

Talking to the media after his arrest, Rashid said police had "wronged" him and that they did not arrest him from the motorway. He added that the police had taken him into custody from his residence.

He said he feared for his life. 

He said he feared for his life. "My crime is that I'm standing with Imran Khan," he said at the Polyclinic hospital in Islamabad, where he was taken for medical checkup.

"I have been a minister 16 times. Never for a single time, I have been charged with corruption in these ministries," he added. Sheikh Rashid said he was picked up from his residence at a private housing society in Punjab.

The ex-interior minister alleged that at least "100 to 200 armed people" raided his residence. "They entered the house through ladders, broke the doors and windows of the house, and beat my servants."

The former interior minister said police forcibly hustled him into their vehicle. He said the police arrested him despite the fact that a court granted him bail and ordered the inspector-general of police to appear before the court on February 6.

He said that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah is "behind all this". Rashid, however, said that truth would prevail at the end of the day and he stands by Khan — in whose cabinet he served as the interior minister.

In response, the former prime minister condemned the arrest of his close aide and blamed the interim Punjab government — led by media mogul Moshin Naqvi — for being biased.

"Never in our history have we had such a biased, vindictive caretaker govt [appointed] by totally discredited ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan]," the ex-premier said.

"Question is can Pak afford a street movement which we are being pushed towards at a time when Imported Govt has bankrupted us?" he asked.

The FIR

In the FIR, the PPP divisional president stated that the AML chief tried to badmouth a former president and cause a "permanent danger" to the PPP co-chairman and his family.

The FIR registered against Sheikh Rashid at the Aabpara Police Station in Islamabad. — Photo by authors
The FIR registered against Sheikh Rashid at the Aabpara Police Station in Islamabad. — Photo by authors

The FIR added that Rashid, with his provocatory allegations, wants to cause a fight between the PTI and the PPP and disrupt the country's peace.

The PPP leader added that the AML chief claimed to have vital information regarding a "conspiracy" being hatched to assassinate the PTI chief.

"If that's the case, then the police should take both the leaders into custody under Section 150 and 151 and fail the conspiracy" to stop the spread of unrest in the country, he added.

Three sections — 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) — have been added to the FIR.

Moreover, police told journalists that a bottle of liquor and a weapon has been recovered from Rashid's possession. Police also said that the former interior minister was "intoxicated" when he was arrested.