PTI chief Imran Khan on Friday announced rallies in support of his detained chief of staff Shahbaz Gill, who he alleged was the victim of "gruesome" torture that included sexual abuse.
"If a political worker [like Shahbaz Gill] can be subjected to such torture, it could happen to anyone," the ex-premier said in a brief conversation with reporters outside Islamabad's Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).
The former premier went there to inquire after the detained Gill's health but was unable to do so as the police reportedly stopped him.
Gill was arrested on August 9 in connection with an FIR registered against him for allegedly inciting mutiny among the armed forces. Footage broadcast on television earlier today showed he was brought to court this morning in a wheelchair where he appeared to be audibly wheezing and was begging officials to give him his mask.
The Islamabad district and sessions court directed capital police to shift Gill to the Pims again for another medical examination.
As plans of the former premier's visit to Pims were announced by Babar Awan earlier today, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police put out a statement on Twitter that the suspect [Gill] was not on physical remand, hence no one was allowed to meet him.
The police also cautioned against disrupting the law and order, warning it would take action.
When Imran reached the hospital to meet him, he was barred from entering the premises.
Officials privy to the development told Dawn.com on condition of anonymity that PTI's legal counsel Faisal Chaudhry spoke to the police team who asked the party representative to seek permission from a court to meet Gill.
After failing to meet Gill, the PTI chief stopped to speak briefly with reporters. Clad in black, he announced that he was taking out a rally in Islamabad on Saturday evening in support of the incarcerated party leader and urged people to turn out in large numbers.
Imran said the rally will also be organised at all divisional headquarters of the party across the country.
A couple of hours before his attempt to meet the party leader, Imran also tweeted condemnation over the "gruesome torture" allegedly inflicted on Gill during custody.
He tweeted that all the pictures and videos clearly showed that Gill was tortured “mentally and physically including sexual abuse”.
He said the Islamabad police had denied inflicting any torture and raised a question: "Who tortured Gill? There is a general perception in the public at large and in our minds too as to who could have carried out the gruesome torture."
The former premier warned: "Remember the public will react. We will leave no stone unturned to find out those responsible and bring them to justice."
Speaking to Geo News, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Imran lacked the court's permission when he came to meet Gill at Pims.
"This is all being done to distract from what Gill has said," she said.
Aurangzeb said the PTI leader was now facing an investigation. "You can take out a rally but the rules cannot be flouted for you."
To a question about Imran's claims of sexual assault on Gill, the minister said a medical board was formed that declared the PTI leader fit. "Are these 13 doctors telling lies? Why didn't medical reports reveal any signs of torture?" she asked.
She said Imran should furnish proof of his claims, which she said, had no veracity.