Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday confirmed that PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was arrested by the Islamabad police “according to the law” on sedition charges and inciting the public against the state institutions.
“He will be presented before a court in the morning,” he said, adding that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against him on behalf of the state.
Sanaullah, in a press conference alongside Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, said that the case was registered on Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio’s complaint under sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Earlier, former minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that Shahbaz Gill had been “abducted” from the Banigala Chowk by unidentified personnel in cars without registration number plates.
Later, Sanaullah claimed that PTI chief Imran Khan had been working on a “narrative” to “create divisions in the military” after realising that he had been “trapped” in the foreign funding case and Toshakhana reference.
“To divert the public’s attention from this, a narrative was formed in a meeting with Imran,” he said. “[During the meeting] Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill were given the responsibility of spreading this narrative.
“A private news channel was also involved in this conspiracy,” the minister said, referring to ARY News. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had issued a show-cause notice to the channel for airing “hateful and seditious” remarks made by Gill.
Later, Sanaullah tweeted that the “script” was prepared under Imran’s supervision and propagated by Gill on the news channel.
He claimed that a preplanned programme had been aired on the news channel and Gill was taken on call. “He read out the entire narrative from the script.
“The words spoken are such that I think it is not in the national interest to repeat them,” he stated, claiming that the PTI leader went to the extent of “seducing people towards rebellion” and “inciting mutiny and sedition in the Pakistan Army ranks and files”.
Gill, the minister reiterated, had been arrested according to the law and through a proper procedure. “And I assure you we will treat him in accordance with the law.”
He said that a “fair and transparent investigation” will be conducted, adding that a team had been formed.
Meanwhile, replying to a question, Sanaullah alleged that Gill’s comments had proven that the PTI was responsible for running a negative social media campaign on the tragic incident of army helicopter crash during flood relief operation in Balochistan.
“Their [the PTI’s] social media was behind it […] and now people, who have been caught, are spilling everything.”
He said that the matter was “grave”, warning that whoever was found guilty would be arrested, irrespective of their position.
Abduction not arrest, says Imran Khan
‘IT’S ABDUCTION’: Earlier, Imran tweeted that Gill’s arrest was an “abduction, not an arrest.”
“Can such shameful acts take place in any democracy? Political workers treated as enemies,” he said.
Separately, in an interview to ARY News, the ex-premier said that what happened with Gill doesn’t even happen in a “banana republic”.
“The videos are circulating on social media and they show that Pakistan has zero fundamental rights […] there are no institutions to protect the public […] that there is no fear among those who are behind it.”
He added that the party will take action and “pursue” the case.
Imran also shared a video of Gill’s assistant who claimed that the party leader was “arrested”.
“I wasn’t unlocking the car after moving it to the side, they also subjected me to violence — look at my neck — and after that, he (Gill) was also handcuffed and they broke the car windows with Kalashnikovs,” the assistant said, adding that Gill was dragged around as well and there were around eight to 10 cars.
In a video shared by the PTI’s Twitter account later, the assistant claimed that around 15-20 cars were present during the incident and Gill was roughed up as well.
He said that he was pressed by the unidentified men to hand over Gill’s cellphone but he refused. The assistant said that no warrant or legal documentation was shown during the ordeal.