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Imran gets bail in sit-in violence cases

January 03, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist” was the response of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan after the Anti-Terro­rism Court (ATC) of Islamabad confirmed his pre-arrest bail in four cases related to violence during his party’s 2014 sit-in at the capital’s Constitution Avenue.

The PTI chairman tweeted this famous dialogue of Indian movie “My name is Khan” to express his joy over a judicial order that brought temporary relief for him on Tuesday in the cases registered against him under different provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand confirmed Mr Khan’s bail in the cases related to attacks on the buildings of Parliament House and Pakistan Tele­vision and a senior superintendent of police and for violence on Aug 31, 2014.

Mr Khan, however, has to face trial proceedings in all the four cases until the court acquits him or otherwise.

He further wrote in the same tweet: “Moreover, the SC has pronounced me Sadiq and Ameen and I am coming after them crooks!”

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, however, seemed unhappy with this development as in a tweet she termed Mr Khan a blue-eyed of the courts and wrote that it was already written on the wall.

However, while talking to reporters after confirmation of the bail, Mr Khan said that he was the blue-eyed of the law, adding that he had never broken any law nor involved in any corrupt practice.

He criticised invoking of ATA clauses against him, saying that the antiterrorism law was for terrorists and not for political leaders or workers. He expressed the hope that the PTI would be able to plug the loopholes in the country’s criminal justice system after coming into power.

He said: “Even astrologists have predicted PTI’s success in 2018 elections and we will amend the criminal system.” On this Mr Khan’s counsel, Babar Awan, reminded him that it was actually the “criminal justice system”.

Mr Khan said that Pakistani’s judicial system had failed to provide justice to the poor. There were separate rules for the powerful and poor people, he added.

He accused the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of not acting against what he called the sugar mills mafia and the Sharif family.

“NAB let them go to Saudi Arabia for seeking a new NRO,” he said, referring to the visits of the Sharifs to Saudi Arabia reportedly for seeking a deal like the 2007’s National Reconciliation Ordinance, commonly known as NRO, under which cases against all politicians were withdrawn.

Mr Khan, however, warned against such a deal for the Sharifs, saying that the PTI would approach the Supreme Court if it was made.

The PTI chairman criticised Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah for what he called playing the role of a friendly opposition.

He alleged that Mr Shah had been rewarded for his silence, claiming that no state institution was pursuing corruption cases involving billions of rupees against him.

Earlier on Nov 14, the court granted Mr Khan interim bail following his surrender before it after a couple of years during which he did not appear in court.

The PTI chairman had been facing criticism from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for not facing cases against him, especially after the ousted prime minister and other members of his family appeared before the accountability court for facing corruption references filed against them.

Mr Khan appeared before the court at a time when it had started the process of confiscating his movable and immovable properties since he had been deliberately absconding from the proceedings against him.

During the course of arguments before the court, Mr Awan said that merely levelling the allegation of inciting people to violence did not constitute Section 7 of the ATA, adding that one protesting against the government could not be called a “terrorist”.

He said every inch of Islamabad’s Red Zone was guarded by cameras, but the suspects who attacked the buildings of Parliament House and Pakistan Television and the SSP were yet to be identified. He alleged that the attackers came from the PM House.

The prosecutor, on the other hand, told the court that Mr Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahirul Qadri had urged people to gather in the capital and incited them to violence in a bid to topple the government of former prime minister Sharif. He said the two leaders were on the stage set up for their parties’ protests when people attacked the state institutions’ buildings.

“It’s a pack of lies,” said Mr Khan while sitting on a bench in the courtroom.

The prosecutor replied that he could make him listen to the speeches in which it was said that “we are going to the parliament”, referring to the protesters’ march towards the state buildings.

He added that bail should be rejected as the police had to recover Mr Khan’s mobile phone to a conduct a forensic examination to ascertain a call between him and PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi, and make the cases stronger against him.

“There are two contenders for Mr Khan’s mobile phone now,” Mr Awan intervened, apparently referring to estranged PTI leader Ayesha Gulalai’s bid to get hold of Mr Khan’s phone.

“They wish to find something special from the phone,” he said sarcastically.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2018