ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday demanded the immediate release of his social media adviser, Azhar Mashwani, whom he said had been “abducted” from Lahore, criticizing police for allegedly torturing supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Khan’s criticism of the police comes at a time when he faces a slew of cases registered against him. Ever since his removal from office last year, and subsequent falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military, Khan’s aides have been arrested under various charges ranging from terrorism to sedition.
In August 2022, Khan’s chief of staff Shahbaz Gill was arrested on charges of inciting mutiny within the armed forces. In January, another senior aide, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, was arrested after a member of Pakistan’s election regulator filed a complaint against him for allegedly threatening members of the election authority and their families.
Following violent clashes with police last Saturday, Khan’s nephew Hassaan Niazi was also arrested by Islamabad police. Khan accuses police of illegally rounding up his supporters and subjecting them to custodial torture, allegations that police have vehemently denied.
In a Twitter post, Khan accused police in Punjab and Islamabad of “breaking all laws with impunity” in their bid to target the PTI.
“Today Azhar Mashwani was abducted in the afternoon from Lahore & his whereabouts are unknown,” Khan wrote on Twitter.
In another Twitter post, the former prime minister said he was sending pictures of the police chiefs of Islamabad, Punjab and all officers involved in the alleged atrocities to international human rights organizations.
After his supporters’ violent clashes with police last week, Khan on Wednesday levelled serious allegations against the police chiefs of Islamabad and Punjab, claiming that a plan was afoot to assassinate him in an “operation.” The Punjab government denied his allegations.