Sheikh Rashid’s legal woes multiply as another case lodged in Karachi

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ISLAMABAD: The legal woes for Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed grew as another case was filed against him Saturday for using foul language against Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari.

The former interior minister — a close aide of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan — is facing three different cases registered recently in Muree, Islamabad and Karachi, for hurling murder plot allegations against former president Asif Ali Zardari, threatening police personnel and passing “offensive” and “filthy” comments against Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, respectively.

Rashid is currently in police custody since his arrest from Murree Motorway on February 2 in the first case.

The new case is similar to the other case — regarding the AML chief’s remarks against Bilawal — registered in Karachi.

The FIR includes five sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), including 500 (punishment for defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions).

It stated that “Sheikh Rasheed used extremely filthy and offensive words against Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari” while speaking to the media at a hospital in Islamabad, provoking the listeners.

“AML chief Sheikh Rashid is deliberately conspiring to subvert peace and instigate clashes and bloodshed,” the FIR read.

It may be noted that Rashid had just filed a plea seeking restraining orders against the registration of further cases against him “on the basis of his political statements”, earlier in the day.

However, the IHC registrar’s office raised two objections to the petition. The registrar objected saying “how can the IHC look into cases registered in other provinces” and “how can the court stop registration of any case”.

The plea

In the plea filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) through his lawyer Sardar Abdul Razzaq Khan, Rashid sought restraining orders against his transfer from the federal capital to Karachi.

“The respondents be restrained from shifting the petitioner from Islamabad to Karachi till the final disposal of the instant constitutional petition,” the plea stated.

The petitioner also requested the court to quash the case registered at Aabpara Police Station in Islamabad after declaring it as “illegal, unlawful and without lawful authority”, and restrict the respondents from lodging more cases against him.

Moreover, the FIRs registered at Murree and Karachi should “be declared as illegal, unlawful, result of abuse of powers and misuse of authority or in the alternate”.

The petition also requested the court that the case registered in Karachi “be ordered to be shifted to Islamabad in accordance with section 234, 235 and 239 of Cr.P.C where the case was already registered”.

Police seek five-day extension in physical remand

The Islamabad Police presented the AML chief in the court of Judicial Magistrate Umar Shabbir amid strict security, upon the completion of his two-day physical remand in the murder plot allegations against the former president.

At the outset of the hearing, the police sought a five-day extension in Rashid’s physical remand.

The investigation officer informed the court that voice-matching tests had been done and the photogrammetry test was left.

Meanwhile, Rashid maintained: “It’d be better I be sentenced to death the way police have kept [me]”.

He complained that the police kept him blindfolded and tied to a chair for hours.

The politician pleaded to the court to order the authorities to take him to a hospital to bandage his injuries and grant him Rangers’ security.

At this, the court ordered to uncuff Rashid.

Meanwhile, Rashid’s lawyer started his arguments, saying that the sections imposed in the case against his client weren’t valid.

He argued that Rashid was sent into police custody for two days for investigation but was “tortured at night”.

Later, the court reserved its verdict on the police’s plea for an extension in Rashid’s physical remand. It also gave the transcript of Rashid’s interview to his lawyer.

The verdict will be announced at 4pm.

Police to seek Rashid’s transfer to Muree

Meanwhile, the Murree police have reached a local court in Islamabad, where they would seek Rashid’s transitory remand in the second case regarding alleged interference in official affairs.

The FIR for the case — lodged on the complaint of investigation officer Ashiq Ali, from the Aabpara Police Station, Islamabad under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Pakistan — stated that Rashid threatened the police personnel and stated that he would not spare them.

‘Cases against PTI won’t improve economy’

PTI leader Faisal Javed Khan while speaking to the media in Islamabad said that Sheikh Rashid is being targeted for raising the voice of truth.

“Filing cases on us will not improve the economy,” he said, adding that they are ready to express solidarity with Rashid.

Javed went on to say that the government offers talks but on the other hand cases are being filed against the PTI leaders and its allies.

He said that his party has already proposed the solution to come out of this quagmire, which is to “announce the date for elections”.

“Unemployment and inflation are breaking records today. The only solution is elections,” the PTI leader said.

Moreover, Javed said that the freedom of the press is being restricted with every passing day and the rights of journalists are violated.

The one who tells the truth and exposes the government’s incompetence is threatened, he added.

The arrest

The police claimed to arrest Rashid from Murree Road in the wee hours of February 2. However, the former interior minister and his nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, contradicted the police’s version and said that the authorities took him into custody from his house in Rawalpindi and not the motorway.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Rawalpindi Division President Raja Inayat Ur Rehman had filed a case against Rashid in Islamabad’s Aabpara Police Station for alleging that former president Asif Ali Zardari was hatching a plot to assassinate the PTI chief.

In the FIR, the PPP divisional president stated that the AML chief tried to badmouth a former president and cause a “permanent danger” to the PPP co-chairman and his family.

The FIR

The FIR added that Rashid, with his allegations, wants to cause a fight between the PTI and the PPP and disrupt the country’s peace.

The PPP leader added that the AML chief claimed to have vital information regarding a “conspiracy” being hatched to assassinate the PTI chief.

“If that’s the case, then the police should take both the leaders into custody under Section 150 and 151 and foil the conspiracy” to stop the spread of unrest in the country, he added.

Three sections — 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) — have been added to the FIR.

Moreover, police told journalists that a bottle of liquor and a weapon has been recovered from Rashid’s possession. Police also said that the former interior minister was “intoxicated” when he was arrested.

Initially, the Murree Police had arrested him and later they handed him over to the Islamabad Police, who shifted him to the Aabpara Police Station, where the case has been registered.

Rashid is also embattled in another case of “illegal occupation” as the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had sealed Lal Haveli — his residence — and five adjoining units on January 30. On the same day, the Lahore High Court ordered to de-seal of the property.

The former minister was shifted to the Secretariat police station after his medical checkup at the Polyclinic hospital.