Yet to join contempt probe, Imran holds another telethon

Published September 12, 2022
PTI chief Imran Khan is pictured during the telethon held on Sunday to collect donations for flood victims. — Photo courtesy: PTI
PTI chief Imran Khan is pictured during the telethon held on Sunday to collect donations for flood victims. — Photo courtesy: PTI

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday skipped another chance to join the investigation into the contempt charge he faces for his remarks targeting an Islamabad judge.

Later on Sunday night, the PTI chief hosted a second fundraiser to collect donations from North America for flood survivors.

According to party leader Faisal Javed, Pakistani nationals including expatriates had committed to donating over Rs4.5 billion to the fund started by Mr Khan to help flood-hit people.

During his previous telethon, the PTI chief had “collected Rs5 billion” in pledges, out of which the party claims Rs3bn have been received.

Earlier in the day, Mr Khan for a third time refused to appear before the joint investigation team probing a terrorism charge against him in connection with his controversial remarks about a judge, Zeba Chaudhry.

Rs4.5bn pledged for flood relief; Fawad says PTI wants ‘institutional balance’

The police had registered a terrorism case against the PTI chairman after he threatened the judge, alongside high-ups of the capital police, with consequences for sending his chief aide Shahbaz Gill on physical remand in spite of allegations of “custodial torture”.

Mr Khan has already skipped two hearings of the JIT and this was his third opportunity to join the investigation.

The police had summoned Mr Khan on Sunday at 6pm in connection with the case registered against him at the Margalla police station on Aug 20, but he failed to show up.

Meanwhile, PTI leaders claimed he had already submitted a written response to the police wherein he refused to join the investigation or face the JIT. In his reply, Mr Khan’s lawyer claimed the “threats” against the judge could not be dealt with under terrorism law.

Telethon pledges

During the transmission on Sunday night, a US-based Pakistani citizen pledged $10 million to the ex-premier’s fund, while a Florida-based Pakistani pledged $50,000 to the fund.

One resident of Canada pledged to donate $25,000, while another pledged $100,000. An Attock-resident pledged Rs2.5m, while Muslim Care UK also pledged 30,000 pounds to the fund.

A former European Parliament lawmaker said 64,000 pounds would be donated to the funds, while anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan said he and his friends had decided to contribute Rs36 million to the fund.

During the telethon, the ex-PM said Pakistan was the most vulnerable country in the world to climate change for which joint efforts were needed to mitigate the impacts of global warming. About the donation pledged by Pakistanis at the last week telethon, Mr Khan said out of Rs5 billion, pledges of at least Rs3 billion have been materialised.

Sania Nishtar, who is in charge of the funds, said data from the Ehsaas programme would be used to distribute the amount among the survivors and assured that there would be no discrimination.

‘Institutional balance’

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry at a presser in Islamabad urged ‘unelected institutions’ to respect the mandate of political leadership as he sought ‘institutional balance’ to address the prevailing challenges. “The ECP is also suffering from an administrative crisis and incompetence, be it constituencies or declaring four million voters dead, or now postponing the elections,” he said.

The PTI wanted to have “close ties with the institutions and want to be on the same page” but “unelected institutions” did not represent the people, he said, adding that the decisions should be taken by the people.

Mr Chaudhry also questioned delays in the cases against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022

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