The Lahore High Court on Monday gave the Rawalpindi police one week's time to recover former interior minister and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid, who seems to have gone missing after his alleged arrest by authorities last month.
According to his lawyer's claims, the 72-year-old politician was arrested from his residence in Rawalpindi by men clad in plain clothes and was transferred to an undisclosed location. Rasheed's nephew Sheikh Shakir and houseworker Sheikh Imran were also reportedly arrested.
However, things took a strange turn when Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO) Khalid Hamdani told the court in a report that Rashid was neither in their custody nor was he arrested by the police, Dawn reported.
The LHC's Rawalpindi bench then directed the police to locate the politician's whereabouts and asked for all-out efforts for the recovery of the AML chief. This came after the court resumed the proceedings over the plea against Rashid’s arrest.
Police said that Rashid's nephew and worker have returned. The Rawalpindi Regional Officer (RPO), who acted as the representative of the police, was tasked with locating Rashid and presenting him before the court. The court also said that the RPO "crossed limits" in Rashid's arrest and warned that a case would be filed against the senior superintendent of police (operations), the deputy superintendent of police and other officers involved in the matter.
"This warning of [recovering him in] a week is the last. If Sheikh Rashid is not found, I will get cases registered against all officers," said Judge Sadaqat Ali Khan during the hearing.
Alleged police brutality against Rashid
Notably, Rashid is a key ally of ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In June, Rashid alleged that the Islamabad police broke into his house and beat his servants. In a second incident, a “force clad in plain clothes” tortured his employees in his Rawalpindi residence, claimed the ex-minister.
Details indicate that the former interior minister was told to show up in front of the anti-corruption watchdog. He had earlier 'skipped' the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) hearing on May 24 probing the settlement of 190 million pounds from the United Kingdom.
The AML leader's arrest comes as the state cracks down on the PTI and its supporters over the violent riots on May 9 that took place after Imran Khan's arrest. Several state buildings and military residences were vandalised by PTI workers. He was arrested in February after a case was filed against him for alleging that former President Asif Ali Zardari was planning an assassination attempt on the PTI chief.