Thursday February 22, 2024

Hunt for Khadija Shah intensifies

Lt Gen Salman Ghani is under inquiry for letting the protesters enter his house and carry out vandalism

May 23, 2023
Khadija Shah, a prime suspect in the attack on Jinnah House in May 9 mayhem. — Facebook/elanonline
Khadija Shah, a prime suspect in the attack on Jinnah House in May 9 mayhem. — Facebook/elanonline

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Police have launched a massive operation, detaining hundreds of PTI activists suspected of involvement in the attacks on defense installations. However, the search for Khadija Shah, the granddaughter of a former army chief, remains ongoing as she continues to evade arrest, defying the army’s stern orders of “no mercy” towards anyone connected to such offenses.

Khadija Shah, a prime suspect in the case, continues to elude authorities, even as her husband, Jehanzeb Amin, has been taken into police custody. In a similar vein, Salman Shah, the former finance minister, was briefly arrested before being freed.

Jehanzeb was not only wanted in connection with the defense installations attacks but is also a proclaimed offender in a separate case involving a bogus cheque worth Rs8.3 million. His current predicament presents 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 as 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 Tareen couple’s attempts 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 served as a witness at Khadija’s nikah ceremony. However, he soon 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 emphasized 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.

While attackers are being apprehended, Lt. Gen. Salman Ghani who was corps commander Lahore on May 9, is under inquiry for letting the protesters enter his house and carry out vandalism. His links with different functionaries are also under investigation. Ghani’s wife is the first cousin of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, it has been learnt.