The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s Senior Vice President, Shireen Mazari, announced on Tuesday that she is leaving the PTI hours after the party claimed that she was arrested for the fifth time. These events occurred just one day after Mazari was re-arrested despite a bench order to release her from detention from the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Rawalpindi branch.
This would be Mazari’s fifth arrest since May 9. Although Mazari cited health and family issues as her reason for leaving the PTI, embattled former Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned Mazari’s repeated arrests, saying “We had all heard about forced marriages in Pakistan but for PTI a new phenomenon has emerged, forced divorces.”
The LHC declared Mazari’s initial arrest illegal and asked her to submit an affidavit stating that she would not be involved with any violent activity. Mazari’s daughter, Imaan Mazari, commented on the arrest, stating the ‘government should think before destroying families like this.’
Mazari’s arrests are evidence of the Pakistani government’s crackdown on PTI officials. Khan has spoken to various news broadcasters to strongly condemn what he calls the government’s ‘reign of terror.’ Khan said that all his ‘top leadership is in jail’ and dismissed the accusation that supporters of his party were responsible for any violence during Khan’s May 9 arrest for corruption.
Human Rights Watch released a statement on the mass arrest of 4,000 people in Pakistan amid protests over Khan’s detention. HRW’s Asia director Patricia Grossman stated ‘Pakistani authorities should end their arbitrary arrest of political opposition activists and peaceful protesters.’