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LAHORE: Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior member and Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh from a private hotel in Lahore in the wee hours of Wednesday.

Hours after the PTI senior leadership make hue and cry over the alleged abduction of Haleem from a local hotel in Lahore in the middle of the night; a Lahore police spokesperson said they just assisted a team of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Sindh in the exercise.

While denying that Haleem was under the custody of the Lahore police, the spokesperson said that the ACE had carried out the operation and took him along with them to an unknown place. He avoided disclosing what charges Haleem was facing that led to his arrest.

When contacted, ACE Punjab spokesperson Abdul Ali told Business Recorder that the ACE Sindh had not taken them in the loop before conducting the operation, and they have no information regarding Adil’s whereabouts.

Earlier in the day, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said on Twitter that Sheikh was arrested by ‘plain-clothed men in the middle of the night’. “This is not even arrest. It is kidnapping. No rule of law left in the country. This situation is a test for both bar and bench, media and human rights groups,” he wrote.

Umar’s tweet followed multiple posts on social media by Haleem’s daughter, Ayesha Haleem, who said the incident occurred at around 3:30am and shared video clips of the episode. In a video statement on Twitter, Ayesha said, “I don’t know whether this is an arrest or a kidnapping, as there was no warrant. Neither his lawyers nor his family knows of his whereabouts.”

She continued that her father had indicated multiple times, particularly during the last week, that there was a threat to his life. “He (Haleem) had written letters to relevant authorities, including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, telling them that there was a threat to his life and that he had received information that plans had been devised to take him into custody and cause him harm,” she added.

According to Ayesha, around 20 to 25 police mobile units were stationed around their residence during the last week and monitoring people, as well as her father’s whereabouts. She said the mobile vans included vehicles that were part of the Chief Minister House’s security detail. “There were individuals in civilian clothes, many of whom had criminal backgrounds,” she alleged.

“Maybe the Peoples Party (PPP) sent its jiyalas — God knows what. But what I want to highlight is that right now, we don’t know where Haleem Adil Sheikh is, who took him away, and what his condition is. For the past three-and-a-half hours, nobody knows anything about his whereabouts,” she said.

“If there is any authority left in this country that can enforce the law and protect human rights, can it tell me where my father is?” she asked. “Who took him away? Whether he is safe? How may we talk to him? How can his legal team meet him? What’s his crime?”

According to her, Haleem had been ‘politically victimised’ by the Sindh government in the past because he had been ‘exposing’ them. She recounted that he was booked under terrorism charges a month ago and the time of the offence mentioned was when Haleem was visiting a television channel for a live programme.

She claimed that if her father goes to cast his vote in the election, a case is registered against him. “I just want to ask is there any law, is there anyone who is left to see what’s happening in this country,” she said, and added that the Lahore police had denied arresting Haleem.

“Lahore police say ... they have no idea where her father is and that they do not know of any plans for his arrest. So I ask #WhereIsHaleemAdil and WHO TOOK HIM,” she twitted.

She elaborated that the family had contacted the Gulberg Police Station in Lahore, from whose jurisdiction Haleem was taken away. “The police officer laughed at our faces and said he has no idea where @HaleemAdil is and that they have no information about the arrest,” she said.

In separate tweets, Ayesha reiterated Haleem “has been very clear that Sindh police have plans to take his life in custody”. “They have already gotten him beaten up in jail before and this time my father even wrote to IG, Add IG, CJ Sindh and CJ Pakistan indicating the threats to his life.” She also stressed that Haleem could not be arrested without the permission of Sindh Assembly Speaker as he was the leader of the opposition in the House.

Meanwhile, a petition was filed in the Lahore High Court for Haleem’s recovery by Advocate Amir Saeed Rawn. The Punjab inspector general of police and others have been made respondents in the plea, which states that men in plain clothes had picked up Haleem in Lahore on Tuesday night.

Police had been approached, yet there was no update on Haleem’s whereabouts, the plea said, adding that the PTI leader had not been presented before any court until now. The court was requested in the plea to issue directives for presenting Haleem before the LHC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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