ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police on Friday denied the allegations of “torture” of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s chief of staff, Dr Shahbaz Gill, which Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party says also included “sexual abuse” and has announced a protest rally against it in Islamabad on Saturday.
Gill, a senior member of Khan’s PTI party, has been under arrest since last Tuesday for comments he made during a news bulletin that the national electronic media regulator dubbed as “seditious.”
The PTI leader was admitted to Islamabad's Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for a check-up late Wednesday, while a district court in Islamabad on Friday suspended his physical remand and ordered police to keep him in hospital until Monday.
In a Twitter post on Friday evening, Khan accused the Islamabad police of subjecting Gill to "sexual abuse," but the police denied the allegation and described it as “absurd.”
"We have repeatedly rejected all these allegations," Taqi Jawad, Islamabad police director for public relations, told Arab News Friday evening.
"Shahbaz Gill isn't tortured in police custody and allegation of sexual abuse is totally absurd. These allegations should be avoided as they can cause public unrest."
On Friday evening, Khan and other senior members of his party tried meeting Gill at the hospital, but they were barred by the police. It followed an announcement by Khan of the rally to protest alleged torture of his chief of staff.
"I want to convey a message to my entire nation that tomorrow, I am holding a rally in Islamabad for Shahbaz Gill," the former premier told reporters outside the PIMS hospital.
"I invite all the people of Islamabad to my rally because if a political worker can be subjected to such torture, then anyone can be subjected to it."
In a Twitter post, Khan said the Islamabad police had subjected Gill to "sexual abuse" in order to “break him down.”
"All the pictures & videos show clearly Gill was tortured both mentally & physically incl sexual abuse - most too gruesome to relate. He was humiliated to break him down. I now have full detailed info," the former premier said.
Also on Friday, Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog headquartered in the United Kingdom, said it was "concerned" about the torture allegations levelled by Gill's lawyers and called for an impartial inquiry into the matter.
"Amnesty International is concerned about the allegations of torture being made by the lawyers of @SHABAZGIL, and calls for an immediate, effective and impartial inquiry investigating these claims," the global watchdog said on Twitter.
Last Friday, after Gill had been in police custody for two days, a court sent him to jail on judicial remand, rejecting a request by the police to extend the suspect’s physical remand. But in a rare move on Wednesday, a local court remanded Gill back into police custody.
A government prosecutor had argued that Gill needed to be remanded in police custody for an additional two days so that police could complete their investigation into a sedition case filed against him. The PTI leader was admitted to PIMS hospital after the Islamabad police took over his custody following the court order.
Earlier today, the Islamabad police said on Twitter Gill was "pretending to be ill under false pretences."
“After reviewing the reports and opinions from cardiologist and psychiatrist, patient [Gill] is clinically stable,” a six-member medical board of senior doctors said in its report dated August 18. “Although he is a known case of bronchial asthma, currently he has no signs of exacerbation of acute asthma.”
“Pulmonologist advised and discharged on medication,” the report, a copy of which is available with Arab News, said.
Video footage made outside a local court on Friday and widely shared on social media showed Gill in a wheelchair, surrounded by policemen, and saying “I can’t breathe.”
The case against the Khan aide relates to comments made on ARY News last Monday asking army officers not to follow orders of their top command if they were “against the sentiments of the masses.”
The country’s national media regulator described the statement as “seditious” and said it was tantamount to inciting revolt within the military. The regulator also issued a show-cause notice to the channel, ARY News, for airing the “illegal” content. The channel has since been off air.