Khawaja Asif, Dar Brothers Trade Barbs After Police Raids Latter's Family Home

Umer Dar calls out Asif in media talk even as police claim his mother was not harassed or beaten up

Khawaja Asif, Dar Brothers Trade Barbs After Police Raids Latter's Family Home

PML-N leader Khawaja Asif and former PTI leaders Umer and Usman Dar publicly traded barbs on Tuesday after police raided the latter's home and allegedly manhandled his elderly mother.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders claimed that former federal defence minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Asif had allegedly orchestrated the police raid at around midnight at his home in Sialkot, a city in which both Dar and Asif reside. After the raid, Dar's mother posted a video in which she claimed that around 20 police officers raided their house at midnight and allegedly manhandled her and tore her shirt.

In the video, Dar's 70-year-old mother claimed that Asif had sent the police because she had announced to contest polls in the city.

"I challenge Khawaja Asif, step into the arena, even if you bulldoze my house, see what I do to your (mascot) lion. Even if you handcuff me, I will submit my nomination papers. Don't have any misconception; I will contest elections even if I am in jail," she said in the video.

"This is not just my challenge but my vow. This is my message to you [Asif] and the residents of Sialkot," she said.

She reiterated that after hearing of her plans to submit nomination papers, Asif allegedly sent 20 police officers to her home at midnight who broker her front door and manhandled her. 

"I appeal to the chief justice to provide me with justice."

The Sialkot police, however, issued a video statement contesting the claims. They confirmed that police had conducted a raid seeking Dar, who is wanted in several cases, including causing damage to property and for anti-state activities on May 9. 

Sialkot District Police Officer Hassan stated that they conducted a lawful activity in search of a man wanted for involvement in criminal cases, adding that harbouring and concealing a wanted man and obstructing the police were also crimes. He stated that during their raid, the women in the house misbehaved with them and abused them, while after they left, a story [of torture] was concocted and posted online. 

Umer, in a statement said that there has to be a limit to shamelessness and callousness.

Umer's brother, Usman Dar, while appearing alongside his mother before the media on Tuesday, called out Asif for this alleged role in the raid and stated that while he had left politics, he would stand by his mother, adding that he was confident his mother would be able to hand a resounding defeat to Asif in polls scheduled for February 8.

Meanwhile, Asif responded by stating that he had waged a political battle with his political opponents but had never made things personal, respecting the elders and families of political opponents. He noted that he spent six months in prison during the term of former dictator General Pervez Musharraf and the Imran Khan-led government, including prosecution for Article 6 -- which carries the death sentence -- but on both occasions, he was vindicated by the courts.

Even when cases were lodged against his wife and children, they quietly endured over three dozen court hearings. 

He further said that he maintained his respect for Dar's mother, referring to her as his sister during his press conference.

Asif added that he condemns such low politics that he would have to sacrifice his ideals, traditions and upbringing.

The incident hearkened to a similar incident three years ago, when police had broken the door to the hotel room of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz in Karachi and arrested her husband, Capt. Safdar early in the morning.

Public reaction

Subsequently, supporters of Dar and Asif tweeted message backing their favoured personality.

Some social media users calimed that this was an election stunt by Umer Dar who was now using his mother for the purpose.

Another pointed to the police statement on the raid to hide the fact that he is still wanted by the police.

Another user noted that Asif had a longstanding history of winning elections for the National Assembly from Sialkot while on the other was a person  who has not even won elections for a union council 

Some pointed out that Asif did not have as good a track record when it came to women as he claimed. One user Mohsin Iqbal claimed that repeated raids on Dar's home and harassment of the women there showed that it was perhaps taking place on the insistence of a political opponent.

PTI's Saffina Ellahi accused Asif of being a 'monster'