In a major development, sources say Balochistan Police on Friday shifted PTI Senator Azam Swati to Quetta after arresting him a case registered against him.
According to media reporters, the arrest is a result of a several cases registered across the country for controversial tweets senior military officers.
The move can also open a Pandora’s Box, meaning that he may be transported to different parts of Pakistan as he faces many cases of similar nature.
On Thursday, a court in Islamabad remanded Swati in judicial custody for 14 days till December 15.
IHC reserves judgment
The news came minutes after Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its verdict on a plea, seeking details of cases registered against him across the country, with the defence tying thwart the future arrests.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said the interior ministry was being asked for details of cases registered across the country, but wondered if it could be done under the current laws of the country.
“There is no law which allows taking such details from provinces,” Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Dogal replied.
“After the 18th Amendment, police is in control of provinces,” the AAG said, adding that the federal government did not have the authority to issue directives to provincial police chiefs.
However, he said a report on the cases registered across the country had been sought from the provinces on the court orders.
“How were multiple cases registered on one incident? FIA has also been made a respondent, they are in your jurisdiction, you can give details of cases registered against Azam Swati by FIA,” the judge told the lawyer.
But Dogal responded that they could provide only those details which were related to the FIA.
However, Swati’s counsel Babar Awan interjected, saying all fundamental rights were policy matters. “If this was the case then they will neither be able to write any letter or do any press conference. How can the federal government say that they are helpless beyond Faizabad or Attock,” said Awan.
Earlier this week, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had arrested Swati for the second time in two months over a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions”.
Separate FIRs were registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh for using “derogatory language” and “provoking the people against the army”. Following the arrest, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) prohibited media coverage of Swati on all satellite TV channels.
Previously, the court had extended his physical remand for four days till Dec 3.
However, the FIA on Thursday requested Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Bashir to send Swati to jail, saying that the agency had completed its investigation. “There is no need for further investigation,” the investigating officer said.
Subsequently, the judge accepted the FIA’s plea and sent Swati to jail with a direction to police to present Swati in court on Dec 15.