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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Azam Swati for the second time in less than two months, allegedly over using foul language against the top military officials.

The PTI senator was taken into custody by FIA Cyber Crime Wing early Sunday morning from his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, allegedly for using foul language against army chief and other senior military officers.

Later, Swati was presented before a judicial magistrate in an Islamabad court, which handed over the senator to the FIA on a two days physical remand.

The FIA had demanded an eight-day physical remand, but the judicial magistrate approved only two days physical remand. PTI leaders including vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, a case against Swati was lodged on the complaint of FIA’s Technical Assistant Anis ur Rehman under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) which deals with offences against dignity of a person, as well as, Sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty), 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (defamation and printing of content deemed defamatory), Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

As per the FIR, Senator Swati and three other Twitter accounts — @Wolf1Ak, @HaqeeqatTV_20 and @Azaadi99 — “ with malafide intentions and ulterior motives, started (a) highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets (…) against state institutions” and senior government functionaries, including outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Azam Swati arrested by FIA

It stated that on November 26, the senator shared a tweet wherein he stated that ‘he would go after a senior military official at every forum.’ It went on to say that on November 19, @Azaadi99 shared a tweet in which held generals responsible for the country’s destruction to which Swati replied with “thank you”.

Further, it added that @Wolf1Ak on November 24 stated that “tabdeeli” (change) had to begin by clearing the filth of the “corrupt generals” from the institution, to which Swati again replied with “thank you”.

The FIR further stated that on November 24, @HaqeeqatTV_20 tweeted about a word for those on their way out to which the senator responded with ‘strong language’.

“Such intimidating tweets of blaming and naming are a mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between personnel of armed forces to harm the state of Pakistan,” the FIR further stated.

The FIR further stated that through the offensive tweets, as well as, the comments on instigating tweets, the accused attempted to persuade army personnel from their allegiance from their duties as subordinates and that this was a “calculated and repeated attempt” by Swati.

It added that a similar complaint had been filed against the senator in the past, adding that Swati attempted to “provoke” the general public and personnel of armed forces by trying to create “a feeling of ill-will among the pillars of the state”.

“Swati violated the privacy and intimated by using false information which was likely to incite any officer, soldier, sailor or airman to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty,” the FIR stated, adding that the remarks were also likely to cause “fear or alarm” in the public.

The FIA also wrote a letter to Chairman Senate to inform him about the arrest. A copy of the FIR against the senator has also been sent along with the letter to the chairman Senate. “After due process and permission from the authorities, Azam Swati was arrested,” the FIA wrote to the chairman Senate.

In a video statement prior to his arrest, Senator Swati stated: “A magistrate has come, he provided me with a warrant, which is respectful (way of arrest).

“As soon as I delivered my speech yesterday (at the PTI protest), I came straight home. I am not one to run away. I’m not going to KPK…I will speak for the rule of law and I also urge the lawyers and senators to come out in support of the rule of law,” Swati added.

Previously, Swati was arrested by the FIA in October for a controversial tweet thought to be against the armed forces. Later, he was released on bail and the senator had alleged that he tortured in custody and had demanded removal of two military officials, one of whom he used foul language again in his tweet on Saturday.

Meanwhile, shortly after his arrest, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) prohibited broadcast and rebroadcast speeches/ press conferences/ media coverage of Senator Azam Swati, including as a guest at a talk show, statements or tickers, on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect. The authority took the decision under Section 27(a) of the PEMRA (Amendment) Act, 2007.

In the prohibition order, dated November 26, the authority referred to the speech made by Swati at the PTI’s long march in Rawalpindi the same day wherein he “made aspersions against the state institutions by levelling baseless allegations”.

The speech went on air “without any editorial control and effective utilisation of delay mechanism,” the PEMRA order noted, adding that airing such content was a wilful violation of its directives. The transcript of Swati’s speech from last night was also reproduced in the notification.

“In case of any violation observed, the licence may be suspended under Section 30(3) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007, without any show cause notice in the public interest along with other enabling provisions of law,” the order added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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