Bail has been granted to a prominent Pakistani human rights attorney who was arrested on terrorism allegations.
Imaan Mazari-Hazir was arrested on 20 August at approximately 03:30 local time by plain-clothed officers who entered her residence after she delivered a speech criticizing the military's strength. Her detention has received widespread criticism.
After military installations were assaulted in May by crowds protesting the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan, analysts say repression has increased.
There has been an excessive reaction to the May 9 events. However, the establishment does not desire to be seen as solely focused on Mr. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Therefore, they are now targeting various segments of society according to sources.
Videos extensively circulated on social media depict Ms. Mazari-Hazir's speech at a rally organized by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) rights group in Islamabad, where she harshly criticizes the military for alleged abductions, a charge the military has always denied.
She stated that people are being detained as if they were terrorists, whereas the actual militants are seated in GHQ [Pakistan's military headquarters].
Moments before her detention in the capital, Ms. Mazari-Hazir posted on social media that "unknown persons" were dismantling the security cameras in her home and that the gate to her residence had been "jumped over."
Shireen Mazari, the mother of Ms. Mazari-Hazir, claimed that security personnel disregarded arrest warrants and legal procedures.
Ms. Mazari, who served as the country's minister for human rights under Imran Khan, posted on social media that the police had raided her daughter's room, confiscated her phone and laptop, and forcibly removed her. "They wouldn't even let her change out of her pajamas," she told sources the following day.
In Islamabad, the police also detained Ali Wazir, co-founder of the PTM rights group and former lawmaker.
The two were later charged with sedition and terrorism before an anti-terrorism court. Additionally, the police have accused them of spreading anti-state messages. Ms. Mazari-Hazir was placed in pretrial detention.
Just prior to her prison transfer, she rushed to her mother and gave her a hug. Visibly distressed, Shireen appeared on the verge of tears.
The federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, mentioned that Ms. Mazari-Hazir's speech was "reprehensible." "I cannot even conceive of the outcome of such remarks. Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons.
How can someone claim that the commander or chief of the army is involved in terrorism while seated in the headquarters?"
Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Thursday describing the arrests as an attempt to suppress dissent and highlighting the importance of upholding due process.
They mentioned that by arresting Imaan Mazari and others, the Pakistani government is using vague and extreme anti-terrorism laws to repress opposition. The government must uphold the right to due process, according to the statement.
Increased repression coincides with a period in which Pakistan is administered by a caretaker government widely perceived to have close ties to the military establishment.
In Pakistan, the last two years have been marked by significant political turmoil, economic instability, and mounting security concerns.
In the midst of all these crises, citizens anticipated that new elections would bring stability.
However, the elections scheduled for this fall have been postponed indefinitely, leaving many concerned about Pakistan's democratic future.