KARACHI - Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday condemned the arrest of retired Captain Muhammad Safdar, PML-N leader and son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stating that it was a conspiracy to create differences among the joint opposition.

“This was not attack just on Maryam Nawaz but on entire PDM. Those unknown people (who detained Safdar) are known to everyone,” the PDM leaders said while addressing a press conference following the arrest of Captain (retired) Safdar.

Earlier, Jamiat Ulema Islam Chief Fazlur Rehman presided over the meeting which was attended by Maryam Nawaz, Akhtar Mangal, Owais Shah Noorani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Mian Iftikhar, Marriyum Aurangzaib and other opposition leaders at a local hotel.

While addressing new conference, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that Captain (retd) Safdar was arrested when he was staying along with his wife at a hotel. “The law enforcers broke the door of their room. Is this the way we respect women in our society,” he asked.

He said that Sindh government was not behind the arrest adding that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was totally unaware about the incident “which shows who is ruling” the province. He was of the view that the federal government’s days were numbered as it was using tactics usually the rulers used in their last few days.

The PDM chief said he talked to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while senior PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Provincial Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah are also present in the press conference which shows that the government had failed to create differences amongst the joint opposition.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that Sindh Inspector General was forced by security officials to sign arrest warrants of Captain (retd) Safdar.

She said the arrest was pre-planned and aimed at creating differences amongst the PDM parties. “It was not felt at any instance that Sindh government was behind the arrest. We are not children (to indulge in differences) and understand why this game was being played and who is behind that.”

Maryam claimed the provincial police chief was told that he just had to sign the arrest warrants. But after the signatures, the IG was told that police would have to arrest Safdar.

“We were sleeping after Fajr prayer and around 6:00am someone started knocking our door. When Safdar opened the door, the policemen said they came to arrest him on which my husband replied he will come outside. But they (policemen) turned down Safdar’s request and restarted knocking the door and even they broke the door open to arrest him,” she added.

Maryam said her husband was getting life threats since long from “high levels”, adding that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were not going to sit idle owing to such threats. The PML-N Vice President was of the view that she cannot be blackmailed through arrests and victimisation of her beloved ones. “I am here. If you have courage come and arrest me,” she said.

The PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also condemned the arrest and said that Sindh Chief Minister was not informed about the arrest. A committee has been formed to probe the incident, he said.

Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari telephoned Maryam and expressed sympathies over arrest of her husband. A spokesman for Bilawal House said that the Chairman condemned Captain (retd) Safdar’s arrest and termed it against tradition of Sindh province as Maryam and her husband were their guests. He said that the Sindh government was not intimated about the arrest. “Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah is directed to carry out impartial inquiry into the incident,” Bilawal added.

On the other hand, Sindh Police on its official Twitter account termed the arrest as “according to law.”

“The arrest of Captain (r) Safdar was done according to law and the investigation will be impartial. Due process will be followed in all respect,” the department tweeted in the afternoon.

Later in the day, a Judicial Magistrate granted bail to retired Captain Safdar in a case pertaining to breaching sanctity of mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah against surety bonds of Rs 100,000. Safdar was booked along with other 200 PML-N workers at Brigade Police Station of district East under section 6, 8 and 10 of The Quaid-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance Ordinance) 1971 read with sections 427 and 506-B of Pakistan Penal Code on complaint of a citizen Waqas Ahmed Khan.

Maryam along with her husband and other party leaders visited the Quaid’s mausoleum ahead of PDM’s public gathering in Karachi on Sunday to offer Fateha. Soon after Fateha, the party workers and Captain (retd) Safdar chanted slogans “Vote Ko Izzat Do” (Honour the vote) and “Madir-e-Millat Zindabad” (Long Live Mother of Nation) slogans. They kept chanting slogans for at least a couple of minutes until the leadership left the mausoleum.

According to the FIR, Captain (retired) Safdar along with around 200 workers violated sanctity of mausoleum and hurled life threats when he tried to stop them from doing so.