LAHORE: Police on Tuesday arrested PML-N MNA Javed Latif after a sessions court dismissed his petition for interim pre-arrest bail in a case of “inciting people against the state institutions”.
The MNA had left the court when Additional District & Sessions Judge Wajid Minhas reserved verdict in the petition after hearing final arguments from the prosecution and the petitioner. The personnel of CIA police in civvies were already present on the court premises, apparently to arrest the MNA.
As the judge announced the verdict, a police team intercepted Mr Latif on his way back to Sheikhupura, near Phool Mandi (flower market) and arrested him.
Brother of Mr Latif filed a habeas corpus petition before the Lahore High Court, challenging the jurisdiction of the CIA to make the arrest. Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun would hear the petition on Wednesday (today).
In a video message recorded at the time of his arrest, Mr Latif said it was unfortunate that elected representatives had been declared “traitors” only for pointing out mistakes being committed in the country. “The terrorists are set free in this country and those who commit mistakes are called patriots,” he regretted.
The PML-N leader said the police did not even wait for the court’s order and intercepted him on the road for his arrest. He accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of using the state institutions to crush the opposition.
He questioned the impartiality of the state institutions and wondered how the prime minister promised Jahangir Khan Tareen, the estranged leader of the PTI, to deliver “justice” in the cases registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The opposition MNA owned his words and said the policy of “smashing” opponents should be stopped to make the country prosperous.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif condemned the arrest of Mr Latif.
He said the arrests of the opposition leaders showed the government was nervous.
He stressed the need for tolerance and saneity for the success of the country, hoping the courts would meet the ends of justice in Mr Latif’s case.
Earlier, before the court, Latif’s counsel Farhad Ali Shah argued that the FIR against his client was baseless and a result of political victimisation. He said police were not competent to take cognisance of the alleged offence mentioned in the FIR.
On the pointation of the counsel, the judge asked the police officials in civvies as to why they were present in the court without being summoned. A personnel who introduced himself as a DSP of the CIA said they came to complete the investigation from the MNA.
The counsel asked the court to confirm the pre-arrest bail of Latif as he undertook to join the investigation.
On the other side, a prosecutor opposed the bail and argued that the MNA crossed constitutional limits for the love of his party’s leader. He said the suspect was not entitled to bail at this stage of the case.
A counsel for the complainant argued that the MNA threatened the state for the love of an individual. He said the complainant had every right to seek legal action against the objectionable statement. He said the complainant felt pride in being part of the PTI.
Township police had registered the FIR on the complaint of a citizen, Jameel Saleem, under sections 120/120B, 153/153A, 500, 505(i)(B) and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The sections deal with the offences of causing incitement against the state institutions, including the army, and promoting enmity between different groups.
In a television programme, Mr Latif had said his party would not say “Pakistan Khappay” (we want Pakistan) if anything happened to the PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz.
The court had granted interim pre-arrest bail to Mr Latif on March 22, which was withdrawn on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021