Pakistan’s army chief ordered an inquiry into allegations that a provincial police chief was forcibly taken from his home by paramilitary forces and pressured into arresting the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The inquiry comes as provincial police chief Mushtaq Mehar and more than 50 other senior police officers in the southern province of Sindh, where the arrest was made, applied to go on leave on Tuesday, referencing the incident in virtually identical leave application letters.
“[The army chief] has directed Commander Karachi Corps to immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible,” read a brief military statement.
On Wednesday, the provincial police department said the decision by the senior leadership to go on leave had been “deferred” for 10 days, pending the outcome of the inquiry.
Muhammad Safdar, the husband of former three-time PM Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning after police broke into his hotel room to take him into custody. He was released on bail hours later.
Safdar was accused of engaging in political activity at the mausoleum of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. On Sunday, he had led a charged crowd of dozens raising slogans and chants against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government during a visit to the mausoleum.
That visit came ahead of a major anti-government demonstration by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), of which Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party is a part.
The rally attracted tens of thousands of protesters in Karachi, the capital of Sindh, on Sunday.
Following the protest rally, reports emerged of provincial police chief Mehar being forcibly removed from his home and ordered to take Safdar into custody.