The Islamabad police on Saturday denied “rumours” of sending a police force to Bani Gala after an arrest warrant was issued for PTI Chairman Imran Khan in connection with his controversial remarks against Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zeba Chaudhry and other officials at an August 20 public rally.
The police said that rumours were being spread of a 300-member force being sent to Bani Gala. “There is no truth in this news and it is baseless,” the Islamabad police said soon after PTI supporters started to congregate at Banigala in anticipation of any police action. It requested citizens to not “listen to propaganda”.
Imran’s arrest warrant dated September 30 was issued by Senior Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim.
Islamabad police subsequently issued a statement, explaining the reasons for the warrant which it said was a “legal process”.
The police said that after the Islamabad High Court struck down terror charges from a case registered against Imran for his remarks, the case was transferred to a sessions court and the PTI chief had not obtained his bail from there.
The police said he had also not attended the last court hearing on the matter and the arrest warrant was thus issued to ensure his presence.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, speaking on Geo News programme “Naya Pakistan”, said Imran’s arrest warrant was routine and bailable.
“It is [for] a bailable crime. There is no question of arrest,” the interior minister said.
In his Aug 20 address, Imran had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police and said: “We won’t spare you.”
The former premier had also taken exception to ADSJ Chaudhry, who had approved Shahbaz Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the capital police, and said she should “prepare herself as action would be taken against her”.
Shortly after, a first information report (FIR) was registered at Islamabad’s Margalla police station under the complaint of magistrate Ali Javed. The FIR said that at the PTI’s rally, Imran had “terrorised and threatened top police officials and a respected female additional sessions judge” in his address so they could not perform their functions and abstain from pursuing any action against any PTI-related individual if required to do so.
The magistrate had argued that Imran’s speech had spread fear and uncertainty among the police, judges and the nation. “Terrorism has been spread the country’s peace has been harmed,” he had added.
The FIR had requested that legal action be pursued against Imran and an “exemplary punishment” be meted out.
Later, Sections 186 (offence of obstructing public servant in the execution of public duty), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 504 (criminal intimidation) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code were added to the FIR.
The issuance of an arrest warrant against Imran came to light shortly after PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that his residence should be raided to recover the “missing” copy of a diplomatic cypher that carries the details of the purported “foreign conspiracy” against his now fallen government.
PTI warns against attempt to arrest Imran
Meanwhile, PTI workers congregated at Imran’s Banigala residence.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar warned against Imran’s arrest, adding that whoever tried to detain him would “regret it”.
“Imported government and puppets keep in mind that the public backlash to any kind of unnecessary campaign will be too strong to bear, better stay behind the red line in your time,” warned former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri.
PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the arrest warrant was a “needless measure”.
PTI leader Murad Saeed, in a video message from Banigala, claimed that a prisoner van had arrived at Imran Khan Chowk. He called on party supporters in Islamabad to reach the party chairman’s residence, adding that Imran was the PTI’s “red line”.
“If they try to cross the red line and enter Banigala then we will make Islamabad a jail for you by tomorrow morning.”
Meanwhile, Imran’s official Instagram account shared a photo of the former premier inside Bani Gala with his pet dog.
He also declined to comment on reports of his possible arrest.
PTI leaders gathered at Bani Gala also showed their support for their chairman.
Imran submits affidavit to IHC in contempt case
The arrest warrant came to light hours after Imran submitted to the Islamabad High Court an affidavit in a contempt case against him, saying he had realised he “might have crossed a line” in his criticism of Chaudhry and was willing to apologise to her “if she got an impression” that he had crossed a line.
The court had sought the affidavit during a hearing on September 22, when Imran had offered to tender an apology to Chaudhry, who had earlier caught flak from the PTI supremo after approving his close aide Shahbaz Gill’s physical remand in a sedition case. Imran’s offer to apologise had seen him escape the indictment.
In his affidavit submitted to court today, Imran said he had “realised during these (contempt) proceedings before the honourable court that he might have crossed a red line while making [a] public speech on August 20, 2022”. However, he added, he never intended to threaten Judge Chaudhry and “there was no intention behind the statement to take any action other than legal action”.
He said he wanted to assure the IHC that he was willing to explain and clarify before Judge Chaudhry that“ neither he nor his party seeks/sought any action“ against her and he was willing to apologise to her “if she got an impression that the deponent (Imran) had crossed a line”.
The PTI chief assured the court that in future he would not do anything that would hurt the dignity of any court and the judiciary, especially the lower judiciary.
He also expressed his willingness to take any further steps that the IHC “deems necessary and appropriate for the satisfaction of the honourable court that he never intended to interfere in the process of the court or impugn the dignity or independence of the judiciary”.
Imran assured the court that he would always stand by his statement in the affidavit in letter and spirit.
The decision to initiate contempt proceedings against Imran was taken by the IHC’s Justice Aamer Farooq on August 22 while hearing a petition challenging Gill’s police remand. The court had summoned Imran on August 31 and subsequently issued him a show-cause notice.
A day before the hearing, the former prime minister had submitted a reply before the IHC wherein he had expressed his willingness to “take back” his words about Judge Chaudhry if they were “regarded as inappropriate”. He had pleaded before the IHC that the judges who had agreed to initiate the case against him should consider withdrawing themselves from the bench as, according to him, they had pre-judged the matter.
However, the IHC had deemed the response to be “unsatisfactory” and asked the PTI chief to submit a “well-considered” response.
Following this, Imran had submitted another reply to the court. In the revised response, Imran had stopped short of rendering an unconditional apology.
On September 8, the IHC had decided to indict Imran, once again calling his response “unsatisfactory”.
However, at the next hearing on September 22, when it was expected that charges would be framed against the PTI chief, Imran had offered to tender an apology to Judge Chaudhry and escaped the indictment.
Following his statement in the court, the larger bench hearing the case had said: “We are, prima facie, satisfied with the apology rendered by the respondent. Let him file an affidavit for consideration of this court before the next date is fixed.”
Before submitting the affidavit today, Imran appeared before an Islamabad sessions court to personally apologise to Judge Chaudhry on Friday (yesterday), but his apology was left hanging as the judge was on leave.
In her absence, Imran left a message for her with the court reader, Choudhry Yasir Ayaz.
“I have come to apologise to judicial magistrate Zeba Chaudhry,” he could be heard saying to the court reader in a video shared by the PTI on Twitter.
“You have to tell Madam Zeba Chaudhry that Imran Khan had visited and wanted to apologise if his words hurt her sentiments,” he said.