Islamabad: Pakistani police arrested ex-minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in an overnight raid on his home near Islamabad days after he accused the former president of the country of plotting to kill ex-prime minister Imran Khan, officials said Thursday.
The latest government move is likely to deepen political turmoil at a time when the government is facing one of its worst economic crises and is in talks to convince the International Monetary Fund to revive a $6 billion bailout.
Police are expected to bring Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who served as interior minister in Khan’s government, before a judge to get permission to question him for any evidence supporting his allegation against former President Asif Ali Zardari.
The arrest of Ahmed was a setback to Khan, who retains a robust grassroots following after he was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April. He now leads the opposition. Ahmed is a staunch critic of the government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Ahmed’s nephew, Rashid Shafiq, told reporters that dozens of police officers forcibly entered his uncle’s house on the outskirts of Islamabad before dawn and arrested him, although Ahmed had already obtained a protective bail.
Police say Ahmed’s arrest came after a complaint from Inayat-ur Rehman, a senior politician from Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party. Rehman told police that Ahmed was inciting people to violence by levelling a serious allegation against Zardari.
Khan has accused Zardari of plotting to kill him by hiring an assassin from an unnamed military group. Zardari denies that and has said he will sue Khan.
Ahmed’s arrest comes days after police in Lahore detained a senior leader from Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, Fawad Chaudhry, on charges of threatening the chief of the elections board and other officials.
Chaudhry was released on bail on orders from the court the previous day. Shortly after Ahmed’s arrest, Khan took to Twitter to denounce his arrest.