An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore granted interim bails to several PTI leaders, including Central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid and former federal energy minister Hammad Azhar, in a case related to violence during the party's 'Azadi March' on May 25.
The police had registered 42 cases against senior leaders and workers of the PTI for agitation in the aftermath of pitched battles between the marchers and officials in the provincial capital.
On Saturday, police added Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) to the first information report (FIR) which had already been registered at the Bhatti Gate police station.
Thirteen leaders of the PTI — Rashid, Azhar, Mohammad Yasir Gillani, Mohammad Zubair Khan Niazi, Andleeb Abbas, Jamshaid Iqbal Cheema, Musarrat Jamshaid, Imtiaz Sheikh, Ijaz Chaudhry, Nadeem Abbas, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed and Mian Akram Usman — were nominated in the FIR.
Subsequently, the leaders approached the ATC for pre-arrest bail. In their application filed by lawyer Burhan Moazzam Malik, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, they stated that the police had nominated them in the case with "mala fide" intentions through a supplementary statement.
The leaders also stated in their complaint that they had been included in the "false case on (sic) the behest of the ruling party just to satisfy their ego and to politically victimise the petitioners".
Subsequently, the court granted the PTI leaders interim bail till June 28 and directed them to cooperate during the investigation. It also directed the police to submit the case record at the next hearing.
A day earlier, an ATC extended the interim bails of top PTI leaders in a separate case pertaining to alleged violations of Section 144 and attacks on law enforcement agencies on May 25.
Last week, the court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for PTI leaders Mian Akram Usman, Zubair Niazi, Imtiaz Sheikh, Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed, Shafqat Mahmood, Nadeem Abbas, Murad Raas, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Yasir Gilani, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Hammad Azhar, Andleeb Abbas, and Ijaz Chaudhry for "intentionally concealing themselves in order to avoid their arrest".
The order was issued at the request of the Punjab police. However, later, they were granted pre-arrest bail till June 17, which was extended till June 28.
Speaking to the media outside the court Dr Rashid claimed that the incumbent government was focused on filing cases against PTI leaders instead of countering inflation which was skyrocketing.
"We will continue our protests. We will not be scared," she added.
Meanwhile, Azhar, who was accompanying Rashid, said his party would not be intimidated irrespective of the number of cases filed against them.
He also spoke about the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) acknowledgement that Pakistan had completed all 34 items on two separate action plans to curtail terrorist financing and money laundering, moving one step closer to exiting the increased monitoring list, also known as the "grey list".
"I had never thought that I would receive congratulations ... outside [an] anti-terrorism court. We did a lot of work related to money laundering," he said.