'Holding a public gathering is not terrorism': Imran appears before Islamabad ATC

Published February 15, 2018
Imran Khan speaks to media outside the ATC on Thursday. — DawnNews
Imran Khan speaks to media outside the ATC on Thursday. — DawnNews

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday appeared before an Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in the 2014 PTV attack cases.

Khan requested the court for acquittal and exemption from appearing during the proceedings.

During the hearing, presided over by judge Shahrukh Arjumand, Khan argued that holding a political gathering was not terrorism. "What type of democracy is this that for holding a political gathering, I have been charged with terrorism?" he asked.

The judge, however, told the PTI chief to address the court through his lawyer.

The hearing was adjourned to February 26.

In 2014, Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Tahirul Qadri 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.

On Dec 7, 2017 the PTI chief requested that the cases regarding the storming of the PTV offices during the 2014 sit-in be transferred from an ATC to a civil court since it did not qualify as a terrorism case.

The request was rejected on Dec 11, 2017.

'I do not need protocol, I am a regular citizen'

Speaking to the media after appearing in court, Khan said: "I am a regular citizen of Pakistan and unlike 'royalty', I do not need protocol."

"Nawaz Sharif acts like he did nothing wrong after stealing millions of dollars from this country, he keeps making contemptuous remarks and keeps asking mujhe kyun nikala even though he knows what he has done," Khan claimed.

"I am convinced that our current prime minister is nothing except a puppet made to sit there so that corruption can prevail," the PTI chief alleged.

Speaking about the Lodhran election which was won by PML-N's candidate, Khan said that the fact that the young Ali Tareen managed to procure so many votes is a major accomplishment for someone contesting the election for the first time.

"We chose Tareen because there are only three months left before the next election," Khan said in response to a question regarding choosing a party member's son as the contestant for the Lodhran election.

Additional reporting by Fahad Chaudhry.

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