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ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad sessions court on Thursday granted PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and PPP district president Raja Shakeel Abbasi pre-arrest interim bail in a case related to “rioting” outside the National Accountability Bureau.

Secretariat police on Wednesday registered an FIR against Mr Khokar, Mr Abbasi and 20 others for rioting and attacking police officials while former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were being questioned at the NAB office in Rawalpindi in the ‘fake accounts’ case.

The FIR was registered under section 147 (punishment for rioting), section 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions), section 149 (unlawful assembly), section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), section 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) and section 353 (assault) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

It added that in addition to those mentioned above, 40 to 50 other people committed these offences but managed to escape.

A Secretariat judicial magistrate sent 20 PPP workers to Central Jail Adiala on a judicial remand in this case.

The police produced the party activists before civil judge and judicial magistrate Saqib Jawad under tight security. The hearing was also attended by senior PPP figures Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari and Amir Fida Paracha, and charged workers shouted slogans against the PTI government and NAB.

The sessions court granted Mr Khokhar and Mr Abbasi interim bail until March 28.

In a statement issued after the court decision, Mr Khokhar said the cases registered against him and other party workers “were like medals”. Having secured bail for himself, he said the dozens of arrested PPP workers who were sent to Adiala would have their bail applications heard today (Friday).

The party chairman’s spokesperson has also accused Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi for threatening “state coercion” during Mr Bhutto Zardari and Mr Zardari’s next appearance at NAB.

“The interior minister should collect his state power; the [PPP] workers are ready to face it,” Mr Khokhar said.

He claimed workers from across the country would come “to express solidarity with their leaders” in their next appearance before the accountability court.

“[PPP] workers from across the country will respond to state coercion through democratic means,” he said, adding that the government could “try” to use state coercion and strength against the people.

“Those who attacked parliament, PTV and jails are giving us a lesson in political ethics,” the spokesperson said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as more than half the cabinet, had been “fugitives” in cases pertaining to attacks on state institutions.

“We respect the institutions but we are not ones to bow in the face of pressure,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019