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Strong reactions pour in over arrest of Fawad Chaudhry

Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry's arrest has triggered nationwide condemnation. Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, also spoke out against the arrest. 

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Strong reactions are pouring in as the nation condemns the arrest of senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry. PTI leaders, along with the public, have also lashed out at the incumbent government for allowing such a political crackdown.

PTI leaders continue to condemn the detention of Fawad Chaudhry. PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi slammed the government over the arrest.

“The imported government has gone berserk,” Farrukh Habib said in a tweet. The PTI leader also posted videos on social media of police whisking away Fawad Chaudhry.

“How can calling someone a Munshi or any other derogatory term even be a cause for arrest? Let alone keeping him at CTD lockup? Terrorists roam free but political opponents arrested!” PTI’s Shireen Mazari tweeted.

Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Fawad’s arrest was a “strong slap on the face of democracy and rule of law”.

Apart from the PTI leaders, notable members of the academia along with the journalist and lawyer communities have also expressed their strong condemnations of Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest, while claiming that the crackdown on political opponents needs to end.

“So Fawad Chaudhry was arrested for calling the ECP secretary a munshi (clerk)? This crackdown on political opponents on any side of the divide has to stop,” journalist Mehreen Zahra-Malik said.

“As Pakistan comes closer to default, its rulers choose the path of political escalation, arresting a senior opposition figure. It seems as if they are bent on setting the house on fire. Time to talk about worst-case scenarios,” Arif Rafiq tweeted.

“Registration of FIR for criticising ECP by Fawad Chaudhry is a gross abuse of power and a true example of criminalising freedom of speech. Registration of FIR is in gross violation of Articles, amongst others, 10A, 14, and 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973,” Ahmad Pansota said.

Read more: Fawad Chaudhry asks SC to verify facts before making accusations?

Even Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, spoke out against the arrest.

“Pakistan’s government has arrested Fawad Chaudhry, a senior opposition leader. If Islamabad fought inflation and debt with as much rigor as it is fighting the opposition, it would have vanquished the economic crisis many moons ago,” Michael Kugelman tweeted.

Fawad Chaudhry arrested

In a surprise move, Fawad Chaudhry was arrested outside his residence in Lahore in the early hours of Wednesday. Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest came an hour after he, along with scores of party workers, gathered outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore, claiming to avert the government’s alleged plan to arrest the party chief. Fawad Chaudhry also lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Islamabad police confirmed the arrest, stating that Fawad Chaudhry tried to “incite violence against a constitutional institution” and “inflame the sentiments of the people”. According to the FIR, Fawad Chaudhry, in his speech outside Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore, warned the ECP, its members, and their families.

Read more: Fawad Chaudhry wishes Maryam Nawaz speedy recovery after throat surgery

The PTI leader has been booked under sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code.