Pakistani police arrested the son-in-law of the country’s exiled former Nawaz Sharif on Monday after he led a crowd in chanting against the military at the tomb of the country’s founder.
The arrest of Mohammad Safdar comes as Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party has joined a series of nationwide protests against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan
Police detained Safdar at a Karachi hotel room where he was staying with his wife Maryam Nawaz, who addressed a large anti-government rally Sunday.
Safdar on Sunday had visited the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who led independence movement to get a separate homeland from Britain in 1947 when united India was divided into two countries: India and Pakistan. Jinnah remains a revered figure in Muslim-majority Pakistan, with his tomb often drawing politicians and leaders.
While at the tomb, Safdar led a crowd in chanting: “Give respect to the vote!” That slogan is viewed in Pakistan as criticism of the country’s military, which ruled the country of 220 million people — directly or indirectly — for most of its history.
Chanting political slogans at Jinnah’s tomb is widely considered taboo. Police say they arrested Safdar, himself a member of the Pakistan Muslim League party, after receiving a complaint from a citizen alleging he was harrassed.
The 70-year-old Sharif who has had a long uneasy relationship with the military, served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations. Sharif has been staying in London since November after being allowed to receive medical treatment abroad.