Pakistan’s ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari’s daughter arrested

Her mother Shireen Mazari, termed the arrest an "abduction" and said plain clothes people "took my daughter away after breaking down our front door".

Islamabad: Imaan Zainab Mazari, the daughter of Pakistan’s former human rights minister Shireen Mazari, was arrested early on Sunday from her residence here for interference in state affairs, police said.

A Tarnol Police Station personnel said the young lawyer and activist was booked for interference in state affairs, staging a sit-in, and resistance.

Her mother Shireen Mazari, who quit the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party after spending her time in police custody following the May 9 riots, however, termed the arrest an “abduction” and said plain clothes people “took my daughter away after breaking down our front door”.

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“Taking away our security cameras and her laptop and cell. We asked who they had come for and they just dragged Imaan out. They marched all over the house. My daughter was in her night clothes and said let me change but they just dragged her away. Of course no warrants or any legal procedure. State fascism. Remember we are only 2 women living in the house. This is an abduction,” Shireen said on platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Before her arrest, Imaan herself posted an update on X, sharing about “unknown persons” breaking down their home cameras, banging the gate, and jumping over.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned Imaan’s arrest and demanded her immediate and unconditional release.

The organisation, terming the Islamabad Police’s act “unacceptable”, said on platform X: “The manner in which the Islamabad Police broke into her home, allegedly without a warrant, is unacceptable and points to a larger, more worrying pattern of state-sanctioned violence against people exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly.”

Last week, Imaan reportedly addressed in Islamabad a rally of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a group of ethnic Pushtu-speaking activists highly critical of the army, and criticised the powerful military establishment.

The young Mazari has been quite vocal and faced a criminal case last year for using abusive language against then Army chief Gen (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Imaan was also highly critical of her 57-year-old mother when the latter was a minister in the PTI government.

The mother and daughter once had an open duel on X in October 2021 after Imaan accused former prime minister Imran Khan-led government of “using witchcraft” to run the state’s affairs.

Reports emerged that the PTI chairman’s wife Bushra Bibi is a spiritual healer or ‘peerni’ to which Imaan tweeted that if the country was to be run by witchcraft, why was a huge amount of taxpayer money wasted on the prime minister’s oversized cabinet?

Shireen in response said: “I am ashamed you would resort to such low, personalised, unsubstantiated attacks especially since as a lawyer, you should know [that] without any proof hurling such accusations is defamation.”

A rush of tweets by people, with many supporting the young Mazari against her mother, followed on X, then Twitter.

Shireen announced her resignation and retirement from active politics after being released from jail following her arrest for the fourth time since May 12, when she was picked up from her residence by police and sent to jail in connection with the violence on May 9.

PTI supporters attacked civilian and military installations across Pakistan in the May 9 violence following the first time arrest of 70-year-old Khan in a corruption case. The “Black Day” violence left Khan’s party in disarray, with scores of PTI leaders quitting the party to avoid going to jail or facing charges for their involvement in the attacks.

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