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ISLAMABAD: President-elect Dr Arif Alvi will seek constitutional immunity in a case related to attacks on Pakistan Television and Parliament House registered against him and other PTI leaders under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) during the 2014 sit-in.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s lawyer Ali Bukhari appeared before the anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Wednesday.

After attending the court, he told Dawn that since Dr Alvi had been elected president, he enjoyed constitutional immunity and could not be tried in criminal cases.

He said the matter would be brought into the knowledge of ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi at the next hearing.

Dr Arif along with other PTI leaders faces trial for allegedly attacking PTV building and Parliament House during 2014 sit-in

According to Article 248 (2) of the Constitution, “No criminal proceeding whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during term of office.”

Police invoked the ATA against PTI chief Imran Khan and its leaders Dr Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Raja Khurram Nawaz for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in.

As per the prosecution, three people were killed and 26 injured, while 60 were arrested. The prosecution had submitted 65 photos, sticks, cutters, etc, to the court to establish its case.

The prosecution said the protest was not peaceful and the PTI leaders sought bail after three years. On Aug 31, 2014, PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers marched towards the Parliament House and Prime Minister House and clashed with police deployed at the Constitution Avenue.

Around 50 protesters, allegedly from the PTI and PAT, attacked and injured SSP Asmatullah Junejo the next day. Initially, police arrested six people who were allegedly involved in the attack.

In addition to the unidentified attackers, police had also nominated Imran Khan and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri as accused in the case. The ATC declared them proclaimed offenders in November 2014 as they did not appear before court despite issuance of summons and arrest warrants.

In July last year, the ATC declared them absconders and started the process of confiscating their movable and immovable properties. In May this year, the ATC acquitted Mr Khan in the SSP torture case.

In the case related to attacks on the Parliament House and PTV building, the court is yet to issue proclamation against the accused persons for their absence.

The PTI leaders, including Mr Khan, remained absconders in these cases and surrendered in October last year.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018