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Sindh Crisis Hits Imran

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The high-profile kidnapping of a police chief in Pakistan by official paramilitary troops signals further turmoil in a country already bracing for more protests against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Troops known as rangers raided the house of Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar, the inspector general of police in southern Sindh province. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a spokesman for opposition politician Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — whose party rules the state — told Dunya TV the rangers forced the police chief to sign an order to arrest another opposition leader, Safdar Awan.

While Khan’s pro-military government has not yet addressed the issue, army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered an inquiry. A spokesman for the prime minister was not immediately available to comment, and the office of the rangers in Karachi declined to do so.

Since the incident, Mahar told his officers to delay leave until the completion of the probes by the army and state government, the Sindh police said on Twitter late Tuesday. Top ranking police officers in the province have sought leave for being “ridiculed,” Khokhar said.

The incident comes amid the worst turmoil in Pakistan since Khan’s rise to power about two years ago. An alliance of 11 opposition parties is holding nationwide rallies seeking his removal over food shortages and inflation, and demanding the military stop meddling in politics.

The army, which has directly ruled Pakistan for about half of its existence since 1947, has historically played a key part in shaping foreign and national security policy, but has expanded its role under the current government. The army and the judiciary cannot be criticized publicly under Pakistan’s constitution.

The rangers are headed by a military officer and operate under the interior ministry, according to the force’s website.

The alleged kidnapping happened before the police arrested Awan — husband of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who is the daughter and political heir of three time premier Nawaz Sharif. Awan, who was charged with raising political slogans during a visit to the tomb of the nation’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, secured bail from the Sindh High Court.

It follows the arrest of journalists and opposition leaders, some whom have been charged with treason by Khan’s government for criticizing the army.

Courtesy – HindustanTimes

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