THE PTI chairman’s worsening legal challenges are entirely of his own making. Despite being given a rare second chance by the Islamabad High Court to offer an unconditional apology and likely walk away unscathed from the contempt of court charges stemming from his problematic remarks targeted at Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, Mr Khan seems to have had trouble preventing his ego from getting in the way of good sense.
Instead of offering a straight apology, as was expected by the court, Mr Khan simply offered a more detailed defence of his actions while expressing ‘deep regrets’ over the matter.
Unimpressed and likely even more riled at Mr Khan for so obdurately wasting the court’s time with his unrepentant response, the IHC has now decided to frame contempt of court charges against the former prime minister on Sept 22. “We are not convinced that the respondent has purged himself of the wrongdoing alleged against him in relation to which the show-cause notice was issued,” the court said, as it announced the decision.
Those facing contempt proceedings are expected to tender an unqualified, unconditional apology and symbolically seek the mercy of the court if they wish to avoid a formal case. However, Mr Khan, or his legal advisers, or both appear to have decided that they would rather contest this charge than walk away from it — thereby preparing for what appears to be an unnecessary confrontation with the court.
It must also be borne in mind that the IHC chief justice has in the past described himself as quite averse to contempt of court proceedings. The court’s decision to frame charges, in this case, seems more indicative of immense frustration at Mr Khan for refusing a chance to redeem himself.
One also wonders why Mr Khan has found it so difficult to just say ‘sorry’ and be done with it. He has already expressed “deep regret” over his utterances and gone to great lengths to explain why he said what he did. Clearly, he realises he may have done something wrong. But instead of offering a clear apology, he has beaten about the bush and subsequently invited the court’s ire.
The leader of a party literally named ‘movement for justice’ seems to be expecting the judiciary to submit and give him special treatment just because of his rising star. This cannot be.
Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other members of parliament who were convicted of contempt were disqualified from contesting elections for a five-year period. If found guilty, Mr Khan is likely to face the same punishment.
There may be some who believe that this is just another attempt by his opponents at a technical knock-out to check the PTI chairman’s growing popularity. However, the truth is that Mr Khan has this time picked a fight of his own choosing.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2022