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Sharif party leader held on ‘mutiny’ charge

Islamabad, Oct 30: Pakistani police have arrested a key Opposition leader, accusing him of defaming the military and trying to incite mutiny, officials said today.

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, de facto leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was arrested late yesterday from his residence and charged with treason for “using provocative language against the armed forces and fanning hatred against them.”

Hashmi, also the president of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), had last week produced a letter at a press conference which he claimed to have received from an army officer.

The purported letter had called for an investigation into the conduct of the army in political affairs of the country since the mid-Fifties when the army first struck to overthrow a civilian government.

Javed Hashmi has in recent weeks also been critical of the Legal Framework Order (LFO) that bestows sweeping powers to President Musharraf.

The President says the order is part of the constitution but Opposition parties have been demanding that it be put before the National Assembly for debate and approval.

“We demand that the speaker of the National Assembly — the lower house — ensure Hashmi’s participation in the proceedings tomorrow,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a central leader of the PML- said after the protest demonstration in front of the parliament. Khan, who met speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain along with MMA leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmad in his Assembly chambers today, said the Opposition parties will meet at the parliament tomorrow morning to discuss the situation arising out of Hashmi’s arrest.

Hussain assured Opposition MPs that he would urge the authorities to produce Hashmi tomorrow so that he could attend the Assembly session. “The speaker is a small fry in this big scheme of things. We don’t take him seriously,” said a Hashmi family member.

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