Pakistani politician released as opposition to continue protests
Pakistani opposition political leader Muhammad Safdar has been released on bail, hours after being arrested by authorities on charges related to a speech at a mausoleum ahead of a major anti-government rally on Sunday.
Safdar was arrested at his hotel room in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi early on Monday, his wife Maryam Nawaz, the daughter and political heir to former three-time Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said.
Later on Monday, Nawaz confirmed at a news conference that Safdar had been released on bail.
“We will both be leaving Karachi together because I have just received a message … that he has been granted bail,” Nawaz said.
Safdar was taken into custody in connection with charges against him for raising political slogans at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, on Sunday.
That incident came hours ahead of a political rally of tens of thousands in Karachi that is part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) countrywide drive to attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.
Formed last month, the PDM is an alliance of 11 opposition political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League’s Nawaz faction (PML-N), the Pakistan People’s Party, the Jamiat Ulema Islam’s Fazl faction (JUI-F) and others.
The PDM alleges Khan’s victory in the 2018 general election was rigged by the country’s military, which has directly ruled the country for roughly half of its 73-year history.
Khan and the military have routinely denied the accusation, with the prime minister accusing the opposition of attempting to deflect or discredit his government’s anti-corruption campaign, which has seen several top political opponents jailed or investigated for alleged corruption.