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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Did the report about Capt. (R) Safdar’s arrest embarrass Imran Khan’s government?

Some analysts argue that the report of the inquiry carried out by the army into the events leading up to and following the arrest of Safdar Awan is a major setback to the government’s narrative on the incident. Did it embarrass the government?

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Some analysts argue that the report of the inquiry carried out by the army into the events leading up to and following the arrest of Safdar Awan is a major setback to the government’s narrative on the incident. Prime Minister Imran Khan termed the incident as ‘comedy’ when Sabir Shakir of ARY News asked him about the same.

Safdar was arrested by the Karachi police from a hotel in Karachi. Safdar had chanted PML-N’s political slogan “Vote ko izzat dou” (respect the vote) while laying flowers wreath on Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah’s tomb, and the act had prompted criticism from PTI Sindh’s leadership. PTI leaders had approached the police seeking registration of a case against the PML-N leader for breaching the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum. Maryam Nawaz, Mohammad Safdar, Maryam Aurangzeb, and about 200 others were named in the complaint.

Fahd Hussain, Dawn’s resident editor and a prominent political commentator, told Dr. Moeed Pirzada on 92 channels that the report has embarrassed the government. “This is the high time that the incumbent learns some basic rules of the game,” Fahd suggested. He maintained that the ministers and the premier must utter every word with great caution to avoid any trouble in the future.

Report ‘rejected’

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ‘rejected’ the report. “Inquiry report on Karachi incident is a cover-up scapegoating juniors and shielding the real culprits. Report “Rejected”,” the ousted premier tweeted.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance, termed the development in the inquiry “a victory of the democratic forces”. In a statement, he said the PDM had demanded that the inquiry be made conclusive. “Now those responsible should be brought to justice. PDM will hold further consultations in this regard,” he added.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose party is also part of the 11-party alliance and who had urged Gen Bajwa to investigate the incident, welcomed the development as “good news”.

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While addressing a public meeting in Gulmit, Gilgit-Baltistan, Bilawal said: “I have received the good news that the chief of army staff [ordered] an inquiry, that inquiry has been completed and action has also been taken. We should welcome this step.”

“Officers acted overzealously”

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement revealed on Tuesday that the report was completed and an initial action was taken. The announcement was made after the court of inquiry constituted to redress the grievances of the Sindh inspector general on the orders of Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was completed, according to the ISPR.

“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,” the statement said.

The concerned officers “were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to the misunderstanding between the two-state institutions”, it added.

Sabir Shakir is of the view that action also be taken against those who revolted against the state and decided to go on leave. While speaking in his show The Reporters on ARY News, Shakir maintained that disciplinary action should be taken against those who declined to perform their duties after the Karachi incident.

Read more: Op-Ed: Safdar’s sloganeering at Quaid’s mausoleum should not go unpunished

General (R) Amjad Shoaib also asked in Dr. Pirzada’s show on 92 channel, will the government take any action against those who challenged the writ of the state? He was of the view that the army has taken stern action those found to be involved in the incident but will the police also take action against those who decided to go on leave after the incident.