The counsel representing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday challenged the jurisdiction of an anti-terrorism court (ATC) to hear the four cases filed against his client and argued that terrorism charges against Khan should be dropped.
In a request submitted before the ATC on behalf of his client, Advocate Babar Awan also sought the transfer of the four cases, dating back to 2014, to a civil court.
The cases against Khan — who was present in court on Thursday — were registered by Secretariat police in 2014 when he was leading an anti-government sit-in outside Parliament House.
These cases include the matter of the attack on a serving senior superintendent of police and other personnel as well as attacking a government installation.
Presenting his arguments before the court, the counsel cited as precedent the dismissal of cases against the protesters who had camped out at the Faizabad Interchange for over 20 days, disrupting life in the twin cities.
The counsel went on to read the agreement which was brokered between the government and the protesters by the army and brought the sit-in to an end. Awan referred specifically to clause 3 of the agreement, whereby the government accepted Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah's demand that cases registered against the protesters would be dropped.
"Does the citizen's struggle for democratic rights fall within the scope of terrorism?" Awan said before the bench, seeking the dismissal of terrorism charges against his client.
Judge Shahrukh Arjumand told the counsel that the cases against the protesters were not all dropped and the accused are still seeking bail.
The prosecution alleged that during the 2014 sit-in, Khan had told his workers to attack the inspector general and lay siege to the Prime Minister House.
The prosecution claimed that there is plenty of evidence that Khan had incited his workers at the time, adding that action should be taken against the PTI chief under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The court extended Khan's interim bail until December 11.
Speaking to the media after his appearance before the court, Khan said that the terrorism charges were levied against him even though the 2014 protesters were peaceful.
He said terrorism charges should be levelled against Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the Model Town case. The PTI chief said that if Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri decides to come out on the streets after the release of the Najafi report, his party would join in the protest.
Pending cases against Khan
In 2014, Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Tahirul Qadri had staged a major rally in Islamabad against alleged rigging in the 2013 election and the Model Town tragedy, which had seen as many as 14 people killed and 100 others injured when police attacked Qadri's residence during an 'anti-encroachment' operation.
Khan had threatened to shut down the entire country in what was perceived as a bid to topple the government. The protest had continued for a record 104 days.
On Sept 1, 2014, while the sit-in was still ongoing, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Asmatullah Junejo had been beaten up by protesters on Constitution Avenue as they stormed the Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters and the precincts of the Parliament.
A case had been registered against Khan, Qadri and others for torturing SSP Junejo and five other police officers. Arrest warrants had also been issued against the two leaders.