Islamabad court grants police two-day physical remand of PTI's Shahbaz Gill

Published August 10, 2022
<p>PTI leader Shehbaz Gill photographed at a district and sessions court in Islamabad while in police custody on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV</p>

PTI leader Shehbaz Gill photographed at a district and sessions court in Islamabad while in police custody on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Wednesday granted police two-day physical remand of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, a day after he was arrested by police on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions.

Police were also directed to produce Gill before the court on August 12 (Friday), while the investigating officer was told to get the PTI leader medically examined.

Gill, who is PTI chief Imran Khan's chief of staff, was arrested from Banigala Chowk on Tuesday — an act that the PTI has termed as an "abduction".

The arrest came in the wake of the Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority issuing a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing controversial remarks by Gill, which the authority described as "highly hateful and seditious" and tantamount to inciting the "armed forces towards revolt".

On Wednesday, Gill was presented before Duty Magistrate Umar Bashir by Kohsar police, which submitted an application to the court for his physical remand.

Before the hearing began, police barred journalists from entering the courtroom, saying that it was the judge's instructions.

According to the court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the investigating officer sought Gill's physical remand for 14 days for further investigation "in respect of other persons allegedly involved in the commission of the offence".

The order said Gill's remand was also sought for the recovery of the "mobile phone allegedly used for the commission of the offence" for the purpose of voice matching through forensics, and to verify that "the interview given by the accused from the head office of the media house which is situated in Karachi".

Moreover, the order stated that the remand was sought for the "verification of the video from the media house".

Gill's lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, argued that there were no grounds for his client's physical remand as he had been in police custody for approximately 24 hours. He also told the court that his client had been tortured and requested a medical examination for Gill.

The court initially reserved its judgement on the police's application but later granted them two-day physical remand of the PTI leader.

Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, Gill said that there was nothing in his controversial remarks that caused embarrassment, adding that he was a patriot.

He also asserted that he did not try to instigate anyone. "Officers within the bureaucracy, who are saying the wrong thing, I talked about them," he said.

Meanwhile, his lawyer said that Gill's clothes were stained with blood and questioned where the PTI leader had been detained prior to being presented before the court.

Special investigation team constituted to probe FIR

Later in the day, the Islamabad police spokesperson told Dawn.com that a special investigation team had been constituted to probe the FIR registered against Gill.

According to a notification issued by the Deputy Inspector General of police, the team will be headed by the senior superintendent and comprise the Kohsar police station’s subdivisional police officer, station house officer and investigating officer.

It said that the team will be responsible for collecting relevant information related to all the concerned individuals and seizing relevant records/evidence.

The team has further been instructed to obtain digital information from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the purpose of investigating the case.

The notification added that the report may be submitted to the undersigned within seven days.

Fawad hopes 'misunderstandings will resolve soon'

After Gill was remanded, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry expressed hope that "misunderstandings" pertaining to Gill's case would be soon resolved.

"Shahbaz Gill's words may be inappropriate, but words don't make [any person] a traitor," he tweeted in a response to journalist Ansar Abbasi asking whether any PTI leader had condemned Gill's remarks that "encouraged rebellion in the army" yet.

Chaudhry added that people like Gill were an "asset" to Pakistan and the army, adding that he was a "patriot".

In a subsequent tweet, he reiterated the hope of misunderstandings being resolved soon, saying that differences between the "country's largest political party and the institution that ensures national security were disastrous" for Pakistan.

"All-out efforts are being made for resolving misunderstandings," he said, adding that "political parties, too, should not go too far against each other.

"As a result of recent events, democarcy has weakened in the country and human rights have been violated."

PTI should distance itself from Gill's remarks

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, while talking to Geo Pakistan, when questioned about Gill's comments and whether the PTI should distance itself from them, said that the party "absolutely should [do that]".

"I myself gave a statement against it (Gill's comments). I said who are you (Gill) to talk about policy? This has caused harm, not benefit. These are our honourable institutions ... and a statement has been given against our army that protects our borders — are you bereft of wisdom?"

Case against Gill

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday had confirmed that Gill was arrested by Islamabad police "in accordance with the law" on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against the PTI leader on behalf of the state.

Sanaullah said that the case was registered on the complaint of Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio under Sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The interior minister claimed that PTI chief Imran Khan had been working on a "narrative" to "create divisions in the military" after realising that he had been "trapped" in the foreign funding case and Toshakhana Reference.

"To remove the public's attention from this, a narrative was formed in a meeting with Imran," he said. "[During the meeting] Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill were given the responsibility of spreading this narrative.

"A private news channel was also involved in this conspiracy," the minister said, referring to ARY News. Later, he tweeted that the "script" was prepared under Imran's supervision and propagated by Gill on ARY News.

Sanaullah also alleged that Gill's comments had proven that the PTI was responsible for running a negative social media campaign on the recent army helicopter crash in Balochistan.

"Their [the PTI's] social media was behind it [...] and now people, who have been caught, are spilling everything."

He said that the matter was "grave", warning that whoever was found guilty would be arrested, irrespective of their position.

Gill's controversial comments

A day ago, Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were "highly hateful and seditious" remarks tantamount to "incite armed forces towards revolt".

The notice went on to say that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such "rank and file" support Imran Khan and his party "which is fuelling rage within the government".

He had also alleged that the "strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.

Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past "and they were at the government positions now".

"The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests," the watchdog stated.

"Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative."

Opinion

Editorial

UNGA speech
25 Sep, 2022

UNGA speech

CRISES test a nation’s resilience but also provide opportunities to rise and move forward. Prime Minister Shehbaz...
Dar’s return
Updated 25 Sep, 2022

Dar’s return

Dar will now be expected by his party to conjure up fiscal space for the govt to start spending ahead of the next elections.
Iran hijab protests
25 Sep, 2022

Iran hijab protests

FOR over a week now, Iran has been witnessing considerable tumult after a young woman died earlier this month in the...
Post-flood economy
Updated 24 Sep, 2022

Post-flood economy

WITH a third of the country — especially Sindh and Balochistan — under water, over 33m people displaced, and...
Panadol shortage
24 Sep, 2022

Panadol shortage

FROM headaches to fever to bodily pain — paracetamol is used ubiquitously in Pakistan as the go-to remedy for most...
Star-struck cops
24 Sep, 2022

Star-struck cops

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if ...