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Former Pakistani Government's Human Rights Minister Arrested


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (center) and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari (right) talk with journalists during a press conference in Islamabad in April 2021.

Pakistan's former human rights minister has been arrested by anti-corruption police, authorities in Islamabad confirmed on May 21, after her daughter and another former minister said she had been mistreated during the arrest.

Shireen Mazari, who served in former Prime Minister Imran Khan's cabinet, was detained by police near her home in the Pakistani capital, her daughter, Imaan Mazari, said on Twitter.

"Male police have beaten and taken my mother away. All I have been told is that Anti Corruption Wing Lahore has arrested her."

Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in Khan's cabinet, said on Geo TV that Mazari, a senior leader in Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party, was manhandled during the arrest.

He alleged that Mazari had been politically targeted by the new administration of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in connection with a land dispute allegation dating back to 1972.

Islamabad police confirmed the arrest on Twitter but said that female officers arrested her "in accordance with the law." A video of the arrest that circulated on social media showed female police officers detaining Mazari.

The tweet added that reports that she was mishandled were "baseless" and said Mazari was arrested at the request of the anti-corruption department.

Mazari has been critical of Sharif's government, which took office after Khan's government was toppled in April in a no-confidence vote.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the arrest and alleged manhandling of Mazari, arguing that it "smacks of political victimization, which has regrettably become an entrenched practice and is deplorable no matter which party is the perpetrator."

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a vocal human rights defender whose party is allied with Sharif's, criticized the arrest as the "worst form of political oppression."

With reporting by AP and dpa

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