Authorities in Pakistan arrest lawmaker over anti-military tweets

Islamabad, Nov 27 (EFE).- The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday morning arrested a sitting member of the parliament – the second time in less than two months – over “highly obnoxious” tweets against senior military officials.

Azam Swati, member of the Senate or upper house, was arrested from his farmhouse in Islamabad by the Cyber Crime Wing of the FIA.

Swati is a close aide of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior vice president of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

“He was arrested over some controversial tweets against the leadership of the military,” Yunus Malik, an FIA official in Islamabad told EFE, without giving any details.

The lawmaker has been booked under sections from the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 law which deal with offenses against the dignity of a person, abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty and abetment.

Swati and three other Twitter accounts allegedly started a highly “obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets” with “malafide intentions and ulterior motives” against state institutions and senior government functionaries, including outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to the charges against him.

Swati was previously arrested by the FIA in October for a controversial tweet targeting the outgoing army chief General Bajwa. He was later released on bail.

The senator has claimed he was tortured in custody where they stripped him off his clothes and filmed him. He also accused the intelligence agencies for filming “objectionable video” of him and his wife in private.

During a press conference earlier this month, Swati burst into tears while revealing about the alleged video which, according to him, was sent to his daughter. He claimed the video was made to blackmail him into silence.

On Saturday, Swati addressed a PTI rally in Rawalpindi directing a series of pointed questions to Bajwa, including reports of corruption during his six-year tenure.

Fact Focus, a Pakistani investigative website, revealed last week that Bajwa’s family has allegedly acquired assets worth 12.7 billion rupees ($57 million) since he took over as army chief.

The worth of his wife’s assets alone have gone from zero to 2.2 billion rupees during this period, the website claimed citing their tax records submitted to the Federal Board of Revenue.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar criticized the “illegal and unwarranted” leak of the tax records of the army chief’s family members.

“This is clearly violative of the complete confidentiality of tax information that the law provides,” a statement issued by the finance ministry stated.

Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, on Sunday refuted such claims of disproportionate increase in wealth of Bajwa’s family during the last six years.

“Misleading data regarding the assets of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family have been shared on social media,” ISPR said in a statement.

“It is totally untrue and based on blatant lies and malice,” said the ISPR statement.

Gen Bajwa is due to retire on Nov. 29 after an extended tenure of six years as chief of the army staff.

Fact Focus website was totally taken down in Pakistan for over 20 hours after it released the investigative report.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on Pakistan’s civilian authorities to ensure respect for its citizens’ right to journalism in public interest.

Related Articles

Back to top button