Court of Inquiry finds ISI/Rangers officials acted ‘overzealously’ in pressuring Sindh police chief to act against Mohammad Safdar
A Court of Inquiry established on the orders of Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to probe the alleged abduction and pressuring of Sindh’s top cop last month has found officers of Pakistan Rangers and the Inter-Services Intelligence to have created an “unwarranted situation.”
A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has supported allegations forwarded by the Sindh government, and opposition leaders, that Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Maher was ‘abducted’ by officials of the paramilitary Rangers and pressured into issuing arrest orders for Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Capt. (retd.) Mohammad Safdar.
“The Court of Inquiry has established that on the night of Oct. 18/Oct. 19, officers from Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and ISI sector Headquarters Karachi were considerably seized with the fallout of the desecration of Mazar-e-Quaid,” read the press release. “They were under increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action as per the law. Assessing the response of police authorities against this developing yet volatile situation to be slow and wanting, in a charged environment, the concerned officers decided to act, rather overzealously,” it adds, without clarifying what “public pressure” the paramilitary organizations were under.
“They were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to misunderstanding between the two state institutions,” it said. “Based on the recommendations of the Court of Inquiry, it has been decided to remove the concerned officers from their current assignments for further departmental proceedings and disposal at GHQ,” it added.
The press release has not identified the officers who were involved in the Karachi incident, merely assuring the public that they will face further departmental action.
Last month, ISPR confirmed that the Army chief had taken notice of, and ordered an immediate inquiry, into the Karachi “incident” after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on Gen. Bajwa and ISI DG Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PMLN’s Safdar.
On Oct. 18, Safdar accompanied his wife Maryam Nawaz to the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam and shouted slogans about “respecting the vote,” and “long live the mother of the nation.” That night, on Oct. 19, while Safdar was staying at a hotel with his wife Maryam, police arrested him for “violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum” and for “threatening murder.”
Following Safdar’s arrest, it was alleged that Sindh’s inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register a First Information Report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum.
In a subsequent press conference, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told a press conference that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious “circumstances”—that report is still pending. Facing low morale, the police hierarchy applied for leaves en masse in protest. They deferred their leaves after Gen. Bajwa took notice of the incident and assured the PPP’s Bhutto-Zardari of an impartial probe.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government has maintained that the entire situation was a “drama” and dismissed calls from the Sindh government questioning the ISI and Rangers’ role in it.