ISLAMABAD: Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal Saturday suspended Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s non-bailable warrants in the Toshakhana case after an hours-long drama at the Islamabad Judicial Complex.
The judge adjourned the hearing till March 30 and told the parties in the case that arguments will take place during the next hearing and also ordered Khan to ensure his presence.
In line with PTI’s insistence that Khan’s life is in danger and he needs security, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Noorul Amin Mengal shifted the hearing from F-8 Court Complex to the Judicial Complex in G-11 as a “one-time dispensation”.
Ahead of Khan’s arrival at Islamabad’s Judicial Complex, the area was put on high security to ensure law and order and avoid any untoward situations — as happened last month.
But a situation like last time took place as PTI workers began stone-pelting at authorities inside the premises of the Islamabad Judicial Complex, resulting in teargas being spread to the courtroom where Khan is set to appear.
For the second time in a row, the PTI workers broke the security barrier of the complex and entered its premises forcefully along with their party chief. Police sources also said that the workers were firing teargas at law enforcers.
Reports said PTI workers also heavily damaged three police mobiles and targeted law enforcers through slingshots, which forced police to fire teargas.
The PTI chief was scheduled to appear before the court at 3:30pm, but he faced hurdles — from vehicles overturning to police and party workers clashing on several spots — in reaching the capital.
Once he arrived outside the judicial complex after the stipulated time, the clashes forced him to turn around and leave the premises of the complex.
Due to the violence that transpired inside the complex, the judge allowed the former prime minister to mark his attendance while sitting in his car and exempted him from appearing inside the courtroom.
While PTI workers clashed with police and caused damage to public property, law enforcers briefly detained the PTI chief’s chief of staff, Shibli Faraz.
PTI workers also set fire to 10 police motorcycles outside the judicial complex and they had also overturned a police officer’s car.
When Judge Iqbal arrived at the courtroom, Khan’s lawyer, Gohar Ali, informed him that the PTI chief has arrived at the judicial complex, but he is facing hurdles in coming to the courtroom.
“No issues, let him come if he wants to. God bless Imran Khan, he is unable to reach [here],” the judge said, as he noted that he would wait for the PTI chief to appear.
The lawyer also told the judge that it isn’t Khan’s fault that workers have accompanied him.
Then Judge Iqbal said that the election commission’s lawyers should take notice of what was happening inside the premises of the complex. He said the hearing would begin once Khan arrives and left for his chambers.
When he came back to the courtroom, Babar Awan told the judge that Khan’s attendance should be marked in his car as the situation was tense outside.
The judge said if the attendance was marked in that manner, then what would happen during the hearing? As the PTI pressed for it, the judge allowed Khan’s attendance to be marked in his car.
Due to the turmoil, the court sought suggestions from the parties on whether the hearing should be adjourned.
Khan’s lawyer Haris said that the PTI chief cannot be indicted today. The election commission’s lawyer said that the time of the hearing should also be decided.
Judge Iqbal said he hopes the next hearing would be held at the F-8 Kacheri. He then adjourned the hearing for a while.
When the hearing resumed, SP Sameen Malik reached the courtroom and in response to the judge’s query about Khan’s undertaking, said he is unaware of whether the PTI chief signed the document or not.
Harris told the court that the SP took the file from him. At this, the SP said the signed document was given to Shibli Faraz. He added that he is hurt and that he does not have the signed document.
The judge then said that this is a very important decision and directed the police officer to find the document.
Harris claimed that the SP was lying. At this, the judge said he does not want a war and directed the parties to take things forward smoothly.
Then, the judge adjourned the hearing briefly as the SP exited the courtroom to find the paper.
When Khan was en route to the capital, the Punjab Police resumed an operation at the PTI chief’s residence, broke into his house, and arrested several party workers in the act.
In response, the former prime minister said it was “clear” that despite having gotten “bail” in the cases lodged against him, the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government intends to arrest him.
“Despite knowing their malafide intentions, I am proceeding to Islamabad & the court bec[ause] I believe in rule of law. But ill intent of this cabal of crooks shd be clear to all.”
“It is also obvious now that the entire siege of Lahore was not about ensuring I appear before the court in a case but was intended to take me away to prison so that I am unable to lead our election campaign,” he added.
In another tweet, he added: “Meanwhile Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone. Under what law are they doing this?”
“This is part of London Plan where commitments were made to bring absconder Nawaz Sharif to power as quid pro quo for agreeing to one appointment,” he added.
Meanwhile, in an update on the traffic advisory for today, the Islamabad police alerted citizens of possible roadblocks and detours due to traffic disruption amid tight security arrangements around the G-11 judicial complex.
In a tweet, the Islamabad police advised citizens to take alternative routes.