Kidnapped, stripped and abused: Swati (Pakistan’s Senator) horrendous custodial torture


ISLAMABAD: For the first time, Azam Swati — a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) senator who was picked up by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) only to be handed over to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency for brutal torture after he criticised the army chief — has described it openly, saying he was left terrified and hallucinating.

Addressing a press conference, Swati, who has previously accused two servicemen in ISI of subjecting him to custodial torture, spoke of being tortured at their hands as FIA officials who raided his residence laughed and recorded the scene, and suspended naked from a ceiling beam for long periods.

Swati said he was beaten, sexually assaulted and starved in prisons whose locations were not disclosed.

The agency arrested the veteran opposition lawmaker on sedition charges in October after he had criticised Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A criminal complaint filed by the FIA against Swati under a controversial cybercrime law accuses him of tweeting a “highly obnoxious and intimidating message” against the military and its chief.

The 66-year-old senator’s tweet was a response to a court order acquitting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shehbaz, in a high-profile Rs16 billion money laundering case.

“Mr. Bajwa congratulations to you and few with you. Your plan is really working and all criminals are getting free at cost of this country. With these thugs getting free You have legitimise(d) corruption,” Swati tweeted.

On Tuesday, in an apparent reference to Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, he said: “You have 27 days left at GHQ […] you must follow [the Constitution] and summon FIA cyber-crime assistant director Ayaz,” who was part of the raiding team.

The senator claimed Ayaz was present during his torture, and was driving the vehicle when he was “picked up”.

“They kept beating me the entire way and one of the men was filming the entire ordeal as I screamed,” he said. The senator said it must be investigated who was “cracking jokes” as he was being stripped naked.

“I would not care even if they would have killed me but they violated my privacy and I will knock on the door of all international institutions […] if a senator is not protected, no person is safe in this country.”

“I wouldn’t have cared had they taken my life but they violated my honour,” he said. He requested the Supreme Court to review the recording of surveillance cameras from around the house. He demanded the recordings be sent for a forensic analysis so the court knows the number of people who entered his house.

He added that half of the evidence of his case is filmed in the cameras. “They [the raiders] also took CCTV cameras along with backup,” he added.__Pakistan Today