Pakistan: (Ex-Foreign Minister) Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrested from Islamabad residence


ISLAMABAD: Former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was arrested by a heavy contingent of police from his residence in Islamabad on Saturday, sources said.

The senior PTI leader was arrested following a press conference in which he announced moving the Supreme Court over the likely delay in general elections. Sources told The Express Tribune that Qureshi was transferred to the FIA headquarters in the federal capital.

When contacted, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) spokesperson said he was not aware of the development and can confirm it after checking.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of Islamabad Police has said that Qureshi was arrested by the FIA.

Sources had told The Express Tribune that the counter-terrorism wing of the Federal Investigation Agency registered a case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan in connection with the “missing cypher”, invoking severe provisions of law.

The sources revealed that a senior officer, who requested anonymity, claimed to have received instructions from authorities to remain silent on the matter.

Last month, Qureshi and senior PTI leader Asad Umar appeared before FIA led joint investigation team (JIT) that is probing into an alleged manipulation of a classified diplomatic cypher during the PTI rule.

The JIT is carrying out the investigation on the direction of the former cabinet which alleges that former prime minister Imran Khan, his associates including Qureshi and his former principal secretary prejudiced the national security and interest of the state by directly revealing classified information—a diplomatic cypher—without proper authorisation.

It also accuses them of misuse and unauthorised retention of the cipher telegram.

On March 27, 2022, ahead of a vote of no-trust that resulted in his ouster, Imran Khan had pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and waved it at the crowd attending a massive public meeting in Islamabad, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government.

Qureshi, who is PTI’s vice chairman, served as the country’s foreign minister during the party’s rule between August 2018 and April 2022.

Earlier in the day while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi had expressed seriouos concerns over the mounting pressure on PTI workers.

He revealed that Usman Dar, a senior PTI member, and his family were subjected to unwarranted harassment, including intimidation of his wife and children last night, and even a shutdown of Dar’s business, directly impacting the livelihoods of over 2,500 people. Qureshi denounced these actions, saying, “I condemn this practice.”

Qureshi also questioned why PTI leader Mohsin Khan Leghari’s son was picked up and tortured. “The caretaker prime minister himself promised transparent elections but how transparent elections can take place under such circumstances,” he questioned.

He urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to take notice of the situation and called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action to ensure a level playing field for all political forces.

Dispelling notions that PTI is facing internal strife, Qureshi stressed, “It is incorrect to label PTI as a party in turmoil.” He further asserted that there is no alternative to PTI Chairman Imran Khan, emphasising that the party’s core committee is actively working in challenging circumstances.

Expressing dismay over what he termed delaying tactics, he said: “Constitutionally, it is mandatory to hold general elections within a 90-day period”, adding that the PTI will approach the Supreme Court to contest any delay in elections.

He informed that the party’s legal team, including Advocates Ali Zafar and Suleman Akram Raja, is preparing a petition in this connection.

Regarding the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting, Qureshi criticised the inclusion of two interim chief ministers in the meeting, arguing that it was inappropriate.

He also noted that the legal fraternity was also in favour of holding elections in 90 days, adding that Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Sirajul Haq has also issued a statement on the pressing matter.

He noted that differences within the former ruling coalition are apparent with the Pakistan Peoples Party’s stance on the CCI meeting as well.

When asked about potential alliance with the PPP in the upcoming general elections, Qureshi indicated that discussions would be held within the core committee for consultation. “No harm in contacting other political parties in order to ensure that elections are held in 90 days,” he