Sheikh Rashid, the chief of Awami Muslim League (AML) and a key ally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has broken his silence after a month of mysterious disappearance. Speaking to the media in Lahore, Rashid disclosed that he was “treated properly and no harm was inflicted” upon him during his absence. His absence began when he was reportedly arrested by “plainclothed” individuals at his residence in Rawalpindi on September 17. The AML chief resurfaced after a month, and during an interview with Samaa TV, he revealed that he had been on a “40-day pilgrimage” where he had diligently studied the Holy Quran and engaged in introspection.
Rashid’s statements about his time in captivity were intriguing. He claimed that he was transformed into a “new Sheikh Rashid” during this period and shared that even for Tahajud, a voluntary night prayer, he was provided with warm water. He admitted that he didn’t know the exact location where he had been held. Furthermore, Rashid emphasized that his party had never been in conflict with the army and expressed concerns about the arrests of several of his employees.
He stated, “You picked up my cook Haneef, Imran, Shakir, Qamar, and Bilal. They all are employees earning Rs30,000.” Rashid’s resilience was apparent as he reiterated his commitment to contesting the upcoming elections, even if he faced arrest again, stating that he needed help from God in this endeavor.
Lal Haveli Unsealed: Legal Battle Over Political Hub
The Lahore High Court‘s Rawalpindi bench ordered the immediate unsealing of Lal Haveli, Sheikh Rashid’s political office and public secretariat. The iconic Lal Haveli, which holds immense political significance, had been sealed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) on September 21. The dispute over Lal Haveli’s ownership had arisen when the ETPB claimed that the property’s ownership documents were “fake.” Lal Haveli, once the residence of a Muslim “dancing girl” from Sialkot, was transformed into a political hub by Rashid in 1980 when he entered parliamentary politics.
During the hearing, Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf declared the decision to revoke the ownership deed of Lal Haveli as null and void. The court directed the ETPB to hear the case again and granted Rashid and his brother, Sheikh Siddique, the opportunity to present their stance in the interest of justice. Justice Rauf lamented that government departments in Pakistan often did not comply with the law. The unsealing of Lal Haveli was a significant legal victory for Sheikh Rashid.
Rashid’s Resilience and Political Aspirations
After the court’s decision to unseal Lal Haveli, Sheikh Rashid addressed the media, expressing gratitude for the historic decision. He reaffirmed his loyalty to the Pakistan Army, stating that he had always supported and respected the institution. Rashid mentioned that he had lost 30 kilograms of weight during his absence and discussed his health, revealing that his medical reports had just arrived.
Furthermore, Rashid extended an offer to the authorities, stating that if his arrest was necessary, they could call him to the police station instead of picking up his driver. He praised the Pakistan Army and highlighted the pride he felt for Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) Nadeem Anjum. Rashid emphasized that he had never spoken against the army.
In a show of resilience, Rashid announced his intention to contest the next election against the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on both seats in Rawalpindi. He also shared a personal note, informing the media that his nephew Rashid Shafiq’s father was unwell. Sheikh Rashid’s reappearance, legal battles, and political aspirations have stirred significant attention in Pakistan’s political landscape.