KARACHI – PML-N’s vice-president Maryam Nawaz and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Monday addressed a press conference in Karachi — hours after retired Captain Mohammad Safdar was arrested.
“Police broke my room door at the hotel I was staying at in Karachi and arrested Capt Safdar,” Maryam had said via tweet early morning. According to her, she was sleeping when the police allegedly “barged in”.
At the press conference, she narrated the order in which the arrest took place.
“We reached home late after the jalsa. We were sleeping when early in the morning I thought I heard someone’s door being knocked on loudly. I woke up my husband and said the loud knocks were on our door.
“Safdar opened the door and police were standing outside who said we are here to arrest you. Safdar told them he’ll change and take his medicine, since he is diabetic, but they broke down the door and came inside.
“Safdar asked them to not enter since I [his wife] was inside but they did and arrested him,” she said.
The government is trying to give the impression that the Sindh government is behind this, said Maryam, “but Bilawal had called me and he was very angry”.
“Sindh chief minister also called me and said that he never expected that something like this would happen with me,” said Maryam. “I never thought even for a moment that PPP was behind this; they [PTI] thought they can drive a wedge between PDM — we know things like this would happen, we are ready as well.”
She defended the slogans raised during her visit to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum on Sunday, saying: “What is wrong with repeating Quaid-i-Azam’s stance at his mausoleum? What is wrong with Madar-i-Millat (mother of the nation) slogans? No one chanted slogans for Nawaz Sharif or myself.”
“We all know who hates the vote ko izzat do (honour the vote) slogan […] We all know who these namaloom afraad (unidentified persons) are.”
Without naming anyone, she added: “Now that you have become zameeni makhlooq from khalayi makhlooq, you will do this?”
She denied that murder threats were issued while the slogans were being raised. “There were so many people, who would have heard this threat and why would anyone threaten to kill you?” she asked.
“If someone thinks they can scare Nawaz Sharif with such tactics, they are wrong. Instead of blackmailing me through my relatives, if you have the courage, come and arrest me.”
She said former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf made “blunder upon blunder” towards the end of his rule and added that the PTI government’s “situation will soon be the same”.
“I am not angry; whatever we do, we will do after giving it proper thought. We are not in a hurry,” Maryam said about her party’s future course of action.
Rehman said the manner in which the arrest was carried out was shameful. “Is this the respect for a woman in our society?”
“This is a government of force, of oppression which does not consider itself bound to the law and the Constitution,” said Rehman alongside Maryam.
He said after only two public meetings by the opposition, the PTI-led government appears unnerved. “Their [PTI] days are numbered.”
Rehman, who is heading PDM, said that this arrest was “done through a conspiracy to create differences between PML-N and PPP” but the government failed to create a rift between the opposition parties.
“This attack is not on Maryam but on entire PDM. Maryam is a guest of the Sindh government […] PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has regretted this act.”
He demanded that Safdar should be released forthwith and those who took the law in their hands should apologise.
Addressing the press conference alongside Rehman, PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said no society could allow such a “shameful” act.
He said the act of “barging into the room of members of a respectable family” while they were sleeping could not be condemned enough.
He said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was “kept uninformed” of this act, which showed the PTI government was “panicking”.
According to Ashraf, Bilawal and PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had expressed sadness over the incident. He said Maryam was a guest of Sindh.
He said Bilawal had asked Shah to hold a “complete investigation” into the incident, adding that the details of the inquiry will be presented before the nation.