PTI Senator Azam Swati burst into tears before the media on Saturday, saying that his wife had received a video featuring him and her and about which he could not share further details because the “daughters of my country are listening”.
Swati, who was arrested on October 13 in a case registered against him over a controversial tweet and is now on bail, claimed that has been subjected to custodial torture.
Swati began the press conference by referring to an earlier media talk, where he recalled saying that neither had he committed any corruption nor anybody, including “powerful circles”, had any “immoral videos” featuring him.
“I was completely wrong,” he said as he accused elements within the establishment for his ordeal.
Swati told media persons that his wife called him from Islamabad at around 9 pm last night. She kept on shouting and crying, he said, adding that he then had to ask his daughter to speak to his wife and inquire what was the matter.
On her insistence, he continued, his wife revealed that someone had sent her a video of him from an unknown number. “Because the daughters and granddaughters of my country are listening, I cannot say any further.”
The senator said that his daughter, while crying, revealed to him that the video featured his wife as well.
“I asked her how is it possible,” the senator said, bursting into tears. He added that his daughter also told him that the video was from when Swati and his wife had visited Quetta.
Recalling that visit, the senator said Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani, who respected his wife, had made arrangements for them to stay at the Supreme Court’s judicial lodges in Quetta. “You (Sanjrani) made arrangements there to protect an elder senator and your aunt (Swati’s wife). And you told me that I will stay there as there were no Supreme Court judges in Quetta.”
Swati was overcome with emotions again and lamented that his wife had to leave the country and move to a “safe place”. He also bewailed that his granddaughters were also “compelled to leave the country with traumas and scars”.
“I am asking my God is this Pakistan where the sanctity of a husband and wife [is not safe?],” he said.
This was the second time that Swati shared the account of an ordeal he allegedly went through, initially having described his “custodial torture” on November 1.
Imran urges CJP to take suo motu notice
PTI chief Imran Khan, who has condemned the alleged torture of Swati previously as well, tweeted after today’s press conference that “Pakistan was created on Islamic moral values of human dignity, honour of the family and inviolability of chadar aur char dewari.
“What has happened to Azam Swati at the hands of the state has been a blatant violation of all these values — from being stripped naked to custodial torture and now this video where the privacy of his wife has been violated.
“It is both shocking, despicable and utterly condemnable. No human being should have to suffer this. I call on the CJP (cheif justice of Pakistan) to take suo moto notice of this.”
Later, Imran added: “I want to apologise on behalf of Pakistan to Mrs Swati, a very private, non public, tahajud guzar lady for the pain, anguish and sense of humiliation she is having to suffer.”
Condemnations pour in
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar shared a clip from Swati’s press conference and termed it a “slap on the face of the Senate chairperson and entire parliament”.
Meanwhile, journalist Mazhar Abbas said Swati’s “video statement should be an eye opener for every democratic and rights activist. [I] wonder how come someone like Senator Pervez Rasheed is silent as he himself had faced such humiliation. This is not acceptable”.
PTI leader Maleeka Bokhari questioned, “Can the guardians of fundamental rights — the honourable chief justice and other Judges remain silent on the torture, humiliation, sexual abuse and assassination attempts of members belonging to Pakistan’s largest political party?”
“The CJP had the privilege of exercising suo motu powers which are now defunct,” she added.
PML-N’s Miftah Ismail also joined others in condemning the alleged incident narrated by Swati.
Quoting a tweet by Imran, he posted: “I have never felt the urge to retweet Imran Khan but here I have to agree with him. The video of Begum Azam Swati is clearly beyond the pale.
“I feel ashamed that an honourable woman can be so humiliated in my country. This madness must stop.”
PTI leader Hammad Azhar, meanwhile, demanded the resignation of Senate chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani.
Another leader from the party, Fawad Chaudhry termed the entire situation “tragic”.
He noted that Swati’s account showed that the “guesthouses of the Supreme Court are completely covered by hidden cameras” and private videos were recorded at the Prime Minister’s Office as well as of SC judges.
“This is a tragic situation,” he regretted.
Former education minister Shafqat Mahmood said he was “shocked” at the release of the “terrible video”.
“No words really to express how tragic it is. What low depths have people sunk to.”
Journalist Hasan Zaidi termed Swati’s press conference “heart wrenching” and condemned the alleged filming of him and his wife.
“Whatever one may think about his politics, this can only be condemned in the strongest possible way. This is completely beyond the pale of all ethics and morality,” he said.
Journalist Zarrar Khuhro said he had no reason to doubt Swati’s account and termed the alleged incident “shameful and disgusting to the extreme”.
He said it “merits a suo moto by the Supreme Court which should direct the investigation into this atrocious act as soon as it can”.
Journalist Asad Ali Toor also called for a high-level inquiry into the matter and said the “culprits must not be spared whatever will be their affiliations.
“This is unacceptable of making videos and blackmailing. Stay strong Azam Swati. We stand by you.”