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Muhammad Safdar talks to reporters in Karachi after being granted bail on October 19.

More than a dozen top police officials in Pakistan’s province of Sindh have applied for leave following the arrest of the son-in-law of exiled ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the provincial capital.

Police arrested retired army Captain Muhammad Safdar in Karachi on October 19 as Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party joined a series of nationwide protests against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javid Bajwa ordered an investigation into the early morning arrest, the military said on October 20 amid allegations that Sindh police were "forced" to issue an order to arrest Safdar after the inspector-general of the provincial police was "kidnapped” by paramilitary rangers.

"Police high command has not only been ridiculed and mishandled, but all ranks of Sindh police have been demoralized and shocked," Yaqoob Minhas, the police additional inspector-general in Sindh, wrote in a letter requesting two-months leave.

"In such stressful situation it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner," read the October 20 letter shared on social media.


Those who submitted requests for leave included an additional inspector-general, seven deputy inspectors-general, and four senior superintendents, according to the Dawn newspaper.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, which is in power in Sindh Province, launched a campaign using the #WeStandWithSindhPolice hashtag.


The arrest of Safdar, himself a member of the Pakistan Muslim League, drew condemnation from the opposition, which accused authorities of targeting Sharif’s family.

It came a day after he led a crowd in chanting “Give respect to the vote!” during a visit to the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the independence movement to get a separate homeland from Britain in 1947.

The slogan is viewed in Pakistan as criticism of the country’s military, which has ruled the country of 220 million people -- directly or indirectly -- for most of its existence.

Police said a first information report was registered against Safdar for allegedly violating the sanctity of the mausoleum.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)

The opposition says Khan's two-year tenure has seen mounting censorship and a crackdown on dissent, critics, and opposition leaders.

The prime minister is also accused of winning the 2018 general election with help from the military.

He has denied the charges.

Sharif, who has had a long uneasy relationship with the military, served as prime minister three times. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations.

Sharif, 70, has been staying in London since November after being allowed to receive medical treatment abroad.

Andras Varga has been appointed president of Hugary's Supreme Court for the next nine years. (file photo)

The executive arm of the European Union has expressed concern over the election of an ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as president of the country's Supreme Court.

Parliament on October 19 appointed Andras Varga as president of the Supreme Court for the next nine years, despite the national council of judges rejecting his nomination over his lack of experience and concerns over the independence of the judiciary.

Pointing to a recent European Commission report raising concerns over the independence of the Hungarian judiciary, commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said on October 20 that the "latest developments only confirm our concerns."

Wigand cited moves to lower eligibility criteria for the appointment of the supreme court president and other members and to increase parliamentary oversight over the judiciary as of particular concern.

"We will continue to follow developments closely," he added.

Varga is due to assume office at the beginning of 2021.

In recent years he has served as a deputy to state prosecutor Peter Polt, another Orban loyalist who has been criticized by the EU for ignoring calls to investigate corruption allegations against politicians and businessmen.

Orban’s government has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its moves to increase state control of the judiciary, media, nongovernmental organizations, and academia.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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