'Pakistan's Dark Age': PTI, others condemn Senator Azam Swati's arrest

Imran 'shocked', 'appalled' by state heavyhandedness over Swati's 'justifiable anger and frustration at injustice'


Newsdesk November 27, 2022
Photo: Facebook/PTI

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday criticised the government after senator Azam Swati was taken into custody for the second time early Sunday morning after a raid at his farmhouse by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber ​​Crime Wing Islamabad team for allegedly tweeting against senior military officials.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a tweet said he was "shocked and appalled at how rapidly we are descending into not just a banana republic but a fascist state".

Lamenting the state's heavy-handedness, the former prime minister questioned how could "anyone not understand the pain and suffering Senator Swati underwent with custodial torture and the blackmailing video of him and his conservative wife [that was] sent to his family".

Read Swati skips Senate panel probing video leak

Imran deemed the tweet reportedly triggering the arrest an expression of Swati's "justifiable anger and frustration at the injustice meted out to him".

Urging all quarters to "raise their voice against this state fascism", Imran also went on to criticise the Supreme Court for "keeping its doors closed" for Swati "despite over a fortnight of appeals by Senators" supporting him.

PTI General Secretary Asad Umar also tweeted about the incident and praised the "dignified manner in which Azam Swati conducted himself as he was arrested today" which Umar deemed to be indicative that "he is fighting for a principle”.

The former human rights minister and senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari maintained that Swati had only "asked some questions and spoke about what happened to him and his family".

Read More Swati moves SC human rights cell against privacy breach

"Is that a crime?" she asked.

"It seems freedom of speech in Pakistan today is reserved for the powerful state," she added, "for the rest, including parliamentarians, this right is denied".

In a series of tweets, Mazari also claimed that a second FIR had also been registered against the Senator in Quetta, lamenting that "asking questions is forbidden now".

"Swati suffered custodial torture after being stripped naked," she added saying that he was blackmailed and denied justice for over two weeks "so in angry frustration he used intemperate words in tweets and is arrested".

Senior party leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi also chimed in saying that he "absolutely condemned the re-arrest" of Swati.

Fellow Senator Ejaz Chaudhry demanded justice for Swati as he questioned "what was his crime? That he spoke the truth?".

Former Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan also pointed how the contrast between how swiftly the state acted on "his speech but the law could not come into action against the injustice done to him, the desecration of his home and the humiliation that he was made to suffer".

"Is this not a double standard of justice?" the PTI leader questioned.

Also Read PTI options: Has Imran got it right or is he making a mistake?

Journalist Moeed Pirzada termed the incident "Pakistan's Dark Age".

It may be noted that an FIR against Swati was registered by the cybercrime wing on November 26, a copy of which is available with the Express Tribune, over 'controversial' tweets made recently allegedly against government functionaries, including the chief of the army staff (COAS).

The report maintained that the PTI leader started a "highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets" against state institutions, including the army chief "with malafide intentions and ulterior motives".

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