Pakistani politician released as opposition to continue protests

Pakistani opposition political leader Muhammad Safdar has been released on bail, hours after being arrested by authorities on charges related to a speech at a mausoleum ahead of a major anti-government rally on Sunday.

Safdar was arrested at his hotel room in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi early on Monday, his wife Maryam Nawaz, the daughter and political heir to former three-time Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said.

Later on Monday, Nawaz confirmed at a news conference that Safdar had been released on bail.

“We will both be leaving Karachi together because I have just received a message … that he has been granted bail,” Nawaz said.

Safdar was taken into custody in connection with charges against him for raising political slogans at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, on Sunday.

That incident came hours ahead of a political rally of tens of thousands in Karachi that is part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) countrywide drive to attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

Later on Monday, Nawaz confirmed at a news conference that Safdar had been released on bail.

“We will both be leaving Karachi together because I have just received a message … that he has been granted bail,” Nawaz said.

Safdar was taken into custody in connection with charges against him for raising political slogans at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, on Sunday.

That incident came hours ahead of a political rally of tens of thousands in Karachi that is part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) countrywide drive to attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

Khan and the military have routinely denied the accusation, with the prime minister accusing the opposition of attempting to deflect or discredit his government’s anti-corruption campaign, which has seen several top political opponents jailed or investigated for alleged corruption.

The military has taken an increasingly overt role in governance under Khan, with serving and retired military officials taking key positions in his administration, including in the areas of health, telecommunications, economic affairs and the $60bn China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Dwindling economy

At the rally in Karachi on Sunday, PDM leaders repeated their accusations against Khan and criticised him for his handling of the country’s economy.

It was the second major protest by the group, which launched its anti-government campaign with a protest by thousands in the central city of Gujranwala on Friday.

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