PTI Focal Person On Digital Media Azhar Mashwani 'Goes Missing'

PTI Focal Person On Digital Media Azhar Mashwani 'Goes Missing'
The focal person for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's digital media, Azhar Mashwani 'went missing' on Thursday afternoon.

Sources privy to the development told The Friday Times that the PTI leader is being questioned by law enforcement agencies for his alleged role in a smear campaign against Pakistan Army and COAS Asim Munir.

Sources maintained that Mashwani was allegedly running a smear campaign against the army with fake accounts.

However, it is not immediately clear if he is currently in the custody of police or the FIA.

Sources from the PTI fear that Mashwani has been taken into custody to link the PTI with the campaign.

According to them, they (PDM) wants to bring the former ruling party at war with the military which isn't the case.

Imran condemns 'abduction'

Earlier today, PTI chairman Imran Khan took to twitter to condemn the "abduction", and the police action against other party workers.

"Enough is enough. Police in Punjab and Islamabad are breaking all laws with impunity as they target PTI," he said.

"Today, Azhar Mashwani was abducted in the afternoon from Lahore and his whereabouts are unknown. On March 18, Senator Shibli Faraz and Omar Sultan were badly beaten by ICT police," he added.

Fawad demands probe

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry called for an immediate probe against the "kidnapping", and demanded that Mashwani be immediately produced in a court of law.

Fawad went on to add that the focal person was picked up after threatening remarks were made by IG Punjab.

PTI 'distances' itself from Mashwani

As soon as the reports of Mashwani's disappearance surfaced, he was removed from the party's official WhatsApp group.

"This is quite strange because other party leaders who were earlier arrested weren't deleted from any of the WhatsApp groups," one of the sources said.

"It may be because the PTI knows that the gadgets in his possession may have some data that may point to the party's alleged involvement in the smear campaign," they said.

PM's remarks

On Monday (March 20), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned an ongoing 'vicious' campaign against army and Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir, and asked overseas Pakistanis to distance themselves from the conspiracy.

“This man Niazi is stooping to unprecedented lows in his desperation for power and going to the extent of damaging the country & undermining our armed forces and their leadership,” he said, in an apparent reference to PTI chairman Imran Khan.

The premier accused the former premier of “damaging the country and undermining our armed forces and their leadership”, and stressed the need to reject the “agenda”.

Taskforce set up

Sources confirmed that the government has also established a taskforce comprising officials from the FIA and other LEAs to trace the individuals behind the campaign.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.