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Pakistani human rights advocate, Army critic Imaan Mazari rearrested after getting bail in sedition case

An Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had granted bail to Mazari-Hazar and PTM leader Ali Wazir in a sedition case related to controversial remarks against the state institutions.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Islamabad Updated on: August 28, 2023 22:39 IST
Pakistani human rights activist Imaan Mazari
Image Source : TWITTER Pakistani human rights activist Imaan Mazari

Pakistani human rights advocate and Army critic Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, who was granted bail in a sedition case on Monday, was rearrested on the same day by the Islamabad police after her release from Rawapindi's Adiala jail. 

According to Geo News, Mazari-Hazar was arrested on a case registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act in Islamabad, Her counsel said that the police did not inform them about the case in which she was rearrested.

Earlier in the day, an Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had granted bail to Mazari-Hazar and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Ali Wazir in a sedition case related to controversial remarks against the state institutions. They were arrested on August 20 after videos emerged that show her criticisng the the military for alleged abductions.

"You are being stopped, as if you are terrorists while the real terrorists are sitting in GHQ [Pakistan's military headquarters]," BBC quoted her remarks at the rally.

Mazari-Hazar's sedition case

Mazari-Hazar and Wazir were booked on the charges of sedition, preventing government officials from carrying out their duties and damaging public property. Prosecutor Raja Naveed on Monday said in court that Mazari had accused government officials of committing treason in her speech.

When the leaders of the PTM and supporters were asked to open the road, they attacked the police and issued threats of dire consequences and damaged vehicles and vandalized nearby shops, said the Tarnol Station House Officer (SHO) Miam Mohammad Imran.

It is worth mentioning that Imaan Hazari is the daughter of former Pakistani Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari in ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan's Cabinet. Her rearrest has sparked speculations that Pakistani authorities are escalating crackdowns in wake of the violent riots on May 9 following Khan's arrest.

Before her first arrest, Mazari-Hazar in a post on X said, "Unknown persons breaking down my home cameras banging gate jumped over." Her mother said that police had barged in her house, ransacked her room, confiscated her belongings and took her forcibly in custody.

Stiffling dissent in Pakistan

Hundreds of members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been arrested since the May 9 violence. Many observers have said that the arrests are part of a larger effort to stifle the voices of those critical of the Pakistani military.

"In arresting Imaan Mazari and others, Pakistani authorities are using vague, overboard anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent. The government should uphold the right to due process," said the Human Rights Watch in a statement.

Nida Kirmani, a human rights activist, claimed that Mazari-Hazir and Wazir were "unfairly targeted for exercising their freedom of speech" but maintained that these incidents were not surprising.

"The security state is hyper-paranoid and insecure at the moment, which is increasing their capacity for human rights abuses as well. The tolerance for dissent was already low, but at the moment, it is non-existent," she said.

The last two years in Pakistan have been full of great political turmoil, economic instability and rising security concerns. This comes as Pakistan is controlled by a caretaker regime ahead of the delayed national election.

On May 9, the supporters of Imran Khan's party vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.

The violent protests came in wake of Khan's arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges. He was later released on bail. Police arrested over 10,000 workers of PTI and more than 100 are being attempted tried under the Army Act.

ALSO READ | Pakistan court to announce reserved verdict on ex-PM Imran Khan's Toshakhana conviction on Tuesday

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