ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman and former premier Imran Khan has claimed he was not aware of any undertaking made before the Supreme Court on his or his party leadership’s behalf that the May 25 “Azadi March” would not proceed to D-Chowk.

“The answering respondent respectfully submits that he was not aware of any statement or undertaking having been made before this Honourable Court on behalf of the ‘senior leadership of the PTI’ or on his behalf during the course of May 25 nor of the details, including as regards the D-Chowk area of the order passed by this Honourable Court around 6:00pm on May 25,” said a two-page reply filed by senior counsel Salman Akram Raja, on behalf of the ex-premier, on Monday.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a five-judge Supreme Court bench will resume from Nov 2 the hearing of a federal government’s petition for contempt proceedi­ngs against Mr Khan and his two counsel.

The reply furnished before the SC in response to the court direction to Mr Khan and his counsel Babar Awan and Faisal Fareed on Oct 26 to file their replies.

PTI chief claims he holds apex court in highest regard, would never ‘knowingly’ violate commitment made to SC

The statements were furnished to counter the allegations levelled by Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman that the PTI leadership had violated the earlier assurances held out to the court on May 25 that the PTI would remain confined to the ground, between sectors G-9 and H-9, and would not reach D-Chowk.

In its Oct 26 order, the SC observed it was necessary to seek for factual aspect of the breach of earlier undertaking and had ordered its office to furnish federal government’s contempt petition and complete reports of the Islamabad Capital Territory, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to the PTI leaders. The reports were submitted to the court in response to the court direction to explain at what time PTI chairman Imran Khan had asked party workers to reach D-Chowk contrary to court direction to hold the rally at the H-9/G-9 ground.

In the two-page reply, Mr Khan said he solemnly submitted that he held the court in the highest regard and that there was no question of his knowingly violating an undertaking made before the apex court or of his not obeying an order made by the apex court. Mr Khan also requested the court to grant him time till Nov 3 to file a reply in the case as desired by the SC through its Oct 26 order.

His counsel Babar Awan, however, claimed he was not a party in the case taken up by the SC on May 25 on Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) petition rather he was conveyed court’s call through his associate Faisal Fareed while he was doing a case in the IHC. Thus, as a senior counsel of the court, he said, he appeared to assist the SC on call.

Referring to the three reports by ICT, IB and ISI, Mr Awan said neither any allegation was levelled against him nor even his name was mentioned in those reports. Therefore the verbal bla­me by the law officer, if any, had no credence at all, the two-page reply stated.

The counsel said Mr Khan’s name was not mentioned by both the counsel “appearing on the court’s call” nor it was referred to in the May 25 order. Instead the word used in the order was “top leadership”, he recalled.

In this context, the SC had directed the interior secretary, Islamabad and the Punjab police chiefs as well as the deputy commissioner of Attock to facilitate meeting of the counsel with Mr Khan who was then stranded in Attock with his procession. But this order was not complied with by the government’s side, the reply contended.

Mr Awan then requested the court to drop his name from further proceedings.

Also, Faisal Fareed claimed he was not a party to this case. Likewise neither he represented the PTI nor its leaders during the original case hearing on May 25, instead he appeared before the court on court’s call, he said. He added he was unable to contact any senior leader, including his brother (Fawad Chaudhry) who was facing intense shelling from the police, on Mangla Bridge. On receiving the information that Mr Awan was appearing before the IHC, he said, he rushed to the court to apprise him about the situation. Also PTI General Secretary Asad Umar was contacted and informed about the court instructions, Mr Fareed claimed, adding he then received instructions which he conveyed to Mr Awan and to the court that the venue provided for the JUI-F rally, being the ground/area between H-9 and G-9, should be made available to PTI marchers.

Mr Fareed claimed the administration neither arranged the meeting nor contacted him after the pronouncement of the May 25 order. He recalled how despite clear court directions, the two committee members Amir Kiani and Ali Nawaz Awan (also president PTI Islamabad) could not be located in the highly charged atmosphere. In order to meet the government committee, he said, he with Mr Awan went to the commissioner’s office and found it empty.

The counsel said he was unable to communicate, meet or talk to Mr Khan before and after the May 25 order. He claimed that he met the ex-PM for the first time in the first week of June 2022.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2022

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