Imran Khan reaches Zaman Park after court suspends arrest warrant
PTI workers, police clash with each other
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan reached his Lahore's Zaman Park residence after the cancellation of his arrest warrants. He appeared before the capital's judicial complex but his attendance was marked outside the premises due to intense clash between between PTI supporters and police. Ultimately, he was allowed to return to his home by the court.
Earlier, PTI's chief began his journey back home in Lahore after staying outside the judicial complex in the capital city for some time for appearing in a court in the Toshakhana case.
PTI's Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that the whole process of attendance was completed and Imran Khan was allowed to return after his attendance. A senior police officer, however, informed the court that the attendance sheet of Imran Khan had been misplaced. The judge reprimanded him and said it was part of the court record and must be recovered. The SP said he would find it out in a while. The court later adjourned the case till March 30 and said Imran Khan would appear in court. The court cancelled the former premier's arrest warrants till next hearing when he would be indicted.
Earlier, after the PTI chief reached Islamabad on Saturday to appear before Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal, he was allowed to leave the premises after marking his attendance in his car outside the judicial complex. The court noted that the judiciary wanted peace and not conflict while sending attendance papers at the gate to mark the attendance of Imran Khan.
In an audio released to the media, the PTI chief can be heard saying he had been waiting to enter the court for 15 minutes but he was not allowed in.
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) March 18, 2023
Meanwhile, Shibli Faraz was released by police after he was arrested for a short period. PTI leaders alleged that other leaders also had been taken into custody and they had been thrashed by police. The judge, however, asked police to let Shibli Faraz in. He asked a police officer to let there be peace. The SP told the judge that he would return after having attendance of Imran Khan,
Shibli Faraz appeared in the court for a while and sobbed out his ordeal, saying he was a heart patient. He said he had been manhandled by police.
Moments earlier, police and hundreds of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers came face to face as Imran Khan reached Islamabad to appear in a court in the Toshakhana case. Reports of clashes and police baton-charge of charged-up workers near the judicial complex emerged and personnel of Frontier Constabulary also stepped in to control the situation.
The Islamabad IGP alleged that a police post had been set ablaze and officials attacked despite request to the PTI chief to enter the judicial complex premises. A tense situation prevails in the capital city.
The police claimed that the PTI workers were pelting stones on the security personnel.
— Islamabad Police (@ICT_Police) March 18, 2023
Mr Khan left for Islamabad to attend hearing in the Toshakhana case in the Judicial Complex today (Saturday), Dunya News reported. A large number of PTI leaders, including Faisal Javed and Musarrat Cheema, and workers accompanied the convoy of the former premier. The convoy will reach the capital city via motorway.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 18, 2023
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 18, 2023
The hearing of the Toshakhana case has been shifted to the Judicial Complex from the district and sessions court. The chief commissioner office issued a notification to transfer the court. Imran Khan had to appear in Court No 1 of the Judicial Complex in G-11/4 instead of the district and sessions court in Sector F-8. Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal is hearing the case.
The former prime minister has multiple times skipped indictment hearings, which was scheduled for February 28, in the district and sessions court in the case initiated at the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for concealing the details of gifts he retained from the Toshakhana while in the power.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal was set to frame charges against him on Feb 28, but his lawyer sought exemption from the hearing as he had to appear before other courts in the capital city. The judge had then issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the PTI chief.
The district administration of Islamabad has imposed Section 144 (ban on public gatherings and display of weapons) keeping in view Imran Khan’s appearance in the Toshakhana case.
Police have also released the traffic plan and said citizens should avoid unnecessary movement towards G-10 and G-11. They have been urged to carry CNICs and cooperate with police during checking. Citizens have been advised to immediately report any suspicious activity.
The Islamabad police have made fool-proof security arrangements ahead of appearance of PTI chairman Imran Khan’s in court. Police have also placed containers around the judicial complex.
Police said no one except the PTI chief, his lawyers and certain party leaders would be allowed to enter court’s premises. The authorities are attempting to avoid a repeat of Imran Khan’s earlier appearance in which dozens of people were injured in an altercation with police.
IHC suspends arrest warrant against Imran Khan in Toshakhana case
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended arrest warrants issued against Imran Khan by a district and sessions court in the Toshakhana case. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued the ruling after the petition submitted by the PTI against warrants was fixed for hearing earlier in the day.
Earlie, the registrar office raised objections to the petition, stating that the former prime minister did not conduct biometric verification to submit the petition. It also added that how the high court could take up a petition again when it has issued verdict on it.
A legal team of the former prime minister had filed the petition in the IHC as the district and sessions court has summoned him on March 18 to attending the hearing he has skipped for four times.
Imran Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Harris has plead the high court to shift the case from the court of the Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal. He also asked the IHC to accept an undertaking and cancel the arrest warrants issued against his client.
On Thursday, the lower court rejected Mr Khan's plea seeking the suspension of non-bailable arrest warrants issued in the Toshakhana case. The judge announced the verdict reserved earlier redirecting the authorities concerned to arrest the former prime minister and present him before the court on March 18.
Imran Khan’s indictment in the reference sent by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was originally scheduled for February 28, but it was differed multiple times before as the PTI chief did not show-up. Later, the court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for the PTI chairman.
“[…] it is concluded that the application is not justified by law as well as fact which is hereby rejected,” reads the written verdict issued no Thursday.
The verdict stated that the applicant has “prayed that in view of the undertaking given by him and the sureties offered by him to the satisfaction of this court, the order dated 13.03.2023 may kindly be recalled and suspend the warrant of arrest.
“Keeping in view the law and order situation created by the applicant, he has lost some of the normal rights granted by procedural as well as substantive laws and he has to actually surrender before the court due to his defiance of the court process.
“Such eventuality is never appreciated by the court and it is regarded as willful default.”
The judge said that the the powerful and weak segments of society were equal in the eyes of the laws and it was not a fun tender such an undertaking after inflicting losses to the national exchequer.
“Keeping in view post order development of issuance of non-bailable warrant of arrest and act and conduct of the applicant, the warrant may not be cancelled just on the basis of his undertaking,” it stated.
What is the Toshakhana case?
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Mr Khan, 70, for concealing, in his assets declarations, details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana - the treasury where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept. The case is known as the Toshakhana reference case.
Mr Khan is accused of earning $36 million from selling three watches gifted to him. He allegedly never deposited some gifts in the treasury, violating the rule as a Prime Minister in Pakistan is allowed to retain the gifts only after paying a certain amount.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended the arrest warrants issued against Imran Khan by a district and sessions court in the Toshakhana case.