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Islamabad: Police in Islamabad arrested the former minister of human rights and a close aide of ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday, triggering nationwide outrage for a move seen by many as politically motivated.
The ex-minister and fierce critic of Pakistan’s powerful military, Shireen Mazari, was arrested from her house in Islamabad and beaten by anti-corruption forces, according to her family, in relation to a decades-old case. The police confirmed the arrest on Twitter, but stated that “news of any mishandling is baseless.” “My mother was illegally abducted,” said the ex-minister’s daughter Imaan Zainab Mazari, adding that she did not know her mother’s whereabouts. “If they [the government] think that the women are soft targets, they are mistaken,” she told reporters.
The arrest is seen by many as an attempt to discourage workers of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party from participating in a planned march against the new government. Khan said his party would protest the arrest and that he would announce the date for the march on Sunday. His party is calling for fresh elections. 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.” (dpa) 
The incident triggered an outcry after a video of the arrest went viral on social media. It shows her being dragged out of a car while protesting audibly.
Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a vocal human rights defender whose party is allied with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, criticized the arrest as the “worst form of political oppression.”
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