The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) early Sunday morning arrested PTI Senator Azam Swati — the second time in less than two months — over strongly worded tweets against senior military officials.

The PTI leader was taken into custody from his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad.

He was arrested by the FIA in October for a controversial tweet thought to be against the armed forces.

Since he was released on bail, the senator has maintained that he was allegedly tortured in custody and has demanded the removal of two military officials, one of whom he used foul language against in his tweet yesterday.

A first information (FIR) report was registered by the FIA on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (CCRC) Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.

The complaint was registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) which deals with offences against dignity of a person as well as Sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty),500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (defamation and printing of content deemed defamatory), Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

According to the FIR, Swati and three other Twitter accounts — @Wolf1Ak, @HaqeeqatTV 20 and @Azaadi99 — “with malafide intentions and ulterior motives, started [a] highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions” and senior government functionaries, including outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

It said that on Nov 26, Swati shared a tweet wherein he stated that he would go after a senior military official at every forum. It went on to say that on Nov 19, @Azaadi99 shared a tweet in which held generals responsible for the country’s destruction to which Swati replied with “thank you”.

Further, @Wolf1Ak on Nov 24 stated that “tabdeeli” had to begin by clearing the filth of the “corrupt generals” from the institution, to which Swati again replied with “thank you”.

The complaint said that on Nov 24 @HaqeeqatTV 20 tweeted about a word for those on their way out to which the senator responded with strong language.

The FIR said that such “intimidating tweets of blaming and naming” were a “mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between personnel of armed forces to harm the state of Pakistan”.

The FIR said that through the offensive tweets as well as the comments on instigating tweets, the accused attempted to seduce army personnel from their allegiance from their duties as subordinates, adding that this was a “calculated and repeated attempt” by Swati.

The FIR noted that a similar complaint had been filed against the senator in the past, adding that Swati attempted to “provoke” the general public and personnel of armed forces by trying to create “a feeling of ill-will among the pillars of the state”.

Swati “violated the privacy and intimated by using false information” which was likely to incite any officer, soldier, sailor or airman to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty, the FIR said, adding that the remarks were also likely to cause “fear or alarm” in the public.

Swati urges lawyers, senators to ‘come out’ against oppression

Soon after Swati was arrested, PTI leader Shireen Mazari posted a video of a statement he made just moments before was taken into custody.

In it, he said a magistrate had come, he provided him with a warrant, which he found respectful. “As soon as I delivered my speech yesterday, I came straight home. I am not one to run away. I’m not going to KPK.

In the PTI power show last night, Swati delivered a fiery speech in which he again mentioned his alleged torture while asking a series of pointed questions from COAS Bajwa.

Swati also mentioned outgoing Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Major General Faisal Naseer in his tweets.

The PTI senator called out the name of Major General Naseer and threatened him that he would have to pay the price.

“I will go against Major General Naseer at every platform. I will use every legal and moral forum against him,” Swati said in a social media post.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has also on several occasions decried Swati’s “custodial torture” in press conferences and various television interviews.

“This is why we have come out,” Swati said in today’s video. “For the rule of law and against oppression.”

He pointed at the officials there for taking him into custody and claimed that they get their orders directly from the military establishment.

He urged fellow senators and lawyers to get out of their homes. “I am telling all the country’s women that I am fighting your war so that they never again strip a senator, a 74-year-old man — or any Pakistani citizen — outside of the law,” he said.

The senator also said that since they brought him a warrant, he was voluntarily surrendering before them.

He, however, decried “torture, getting [physical] remand and again torture, and on top of that stripping”. “This is no way [to treat anyone].”

Swati and party senators have also held a series of protest marches outside the Supreme Court, demanding justice.

Hours later, PTI’s official Twitter account posted photographs of party senior leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Senate Opposition Leader Shahzad Waseem, Imran Ismail and others who reached the capital’s F-8 area in solidarity with Swati.

IMRAN SHOCKED: “I am shocked and appalled at how rapidly we are descending into not just a banana republic but a fascist state. How can anyone not understand the pain and suffering Senator Swati underwent with custodial torture and blackmailing video of him and his conservative wife sent to his family?” asked PTI Chairman Imran Khan on his party lawmaker’s arrest.

The former prime minister said that Senator Swati’s “justifiable anger and frustration at the injustice meted out to him especially the doors of Supreme Court remaining closed to him despite over a fortnight of appeals by senators in support of him”. 

“So, he tweets and is arrested again. Everyone must raise their voice against this state fascism,” said the PTI chief.

PEMRA BARS: The Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA) barred television channels from airing any of Swati’s speeches, press conference or invite him to any programmes.

The regulator in a statement said that the senator made allegations without any proof against institutions during PTI’s rally on November 26.

PEMRA warned television channels that if its orders are not followed then licenses of those channels will be revoked without any show cause notice. 

SENATE CHAIRMAN INFORMED: The FIA, in a letter, informed Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani of Swati’s arrest. The FIR registered against the senator has also been added in the letter. 

“After due process and permission from the authorities, Azam Swati was arrested,” FIA said in the letter.

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