The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed Punjab police chief Faisal Shahkar to register a first information report (FIR) of the gun attack on PTI chief Imran Khan within 24 hours.
The PTI chief was injured during a gun attack while leading the party’s long march in Punjab’s Wazirabad on November 3. A PTI supporter, Muazzam Nawaz, was killed in the incident while 14 others, including Imran, were wounded.
The matter was raised at the hearing of a contempt plea filed by the interior ministry against Imran for allegedly flouting a May 25 order of the apex court that defined the limits for the party’s ‘Azadi March’ gathering in Islamabad at the time.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mazahar Akbar Naqvi, heard the plea.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial warned of taking suo motu notice if the FIR of the attack was not registered.
He also asked Punjab inspector general (IG), who joined the hearing from the SC’s Lahore registry via video link, why the FIR was not registered.
“Tell us when the FIR will be registered,” he said, adding that there should be a concrete reason for not registering the FIR.
CJP Bandial observed that it had been 90 hours since the attack but the FIR had not yet been registered.
“How will an investigation be initiated without it? And without an FIR, even evidence can be altered,” he added.
IG Shahkar — who has decided to part ways with the Punjab government and refused to work with the current political setup in the province led by Chief Minister Parvez Elahi — informed the court that “we have spoken to the Punjab CM regarding the registration of the FIR and he has expressed some reservations”.
He further said a FIR should also be registered on the complaint of the heirs of the man who was killed in the incident.
Shahkar remarked that Punjab had seen “eight IG’s being replaced in four years”.
At that, the CJP remarked, “Don’t tell us what options the police have […] the criminal justice system and delivery of justice is our topmost priority.
“Work according to the law, the court is with you,” the CJP told the IG.
The CJP then directed Shahkar to probe the matter, assuring him that nobody would interfere in his work till the time he was posted as the IG.
“IG sahib, you do your job. If someone interferes, the court will interfere in their work,” he said.
Warning of taking a suo motu notice if the FIR was not registered, the CJP said, “IG sahib, you will be answerable in the sou motu notice.
“There was an attempt to kill a national leader, realise the sensitivity of the matter. Investigate, collect evidence and get a forensic [analysis] conducted.”
Deadlock over FIR
A deadlock over the registration of a case for the attack has continued following the reported refusal by Imran to withdraw the name of a senior army officer from the complaint, which also carries the names of the prime minister and interior minister.
Reports suggest Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is caught between ‘the devil and the deep blue sea’ as Imran, who essentially calls the shots for the ruling coalition in Punjab, continues to insist on nominating the army officer in the FIR.
On Sunday, Imran again questioned the delay in the registration of the FIR. He said the case should be registered against the prime minister, interior minister, and a senior intelligence official for “hatching a conspiracy to kill him”.
He added that despite the passage of three days, the case was not registered as the Punjab police were “reluctant to register the FIR”. He expressed surprise that the police were adamant about not including the name of the military officer in the FIR but ready to nominate the prime minister and the interior minister in the case.
“Policemen concerned requested that they be transferred from the post…[and] some other officer may register the FIR nominating suspects mentioned by me,” he claimed.
Imran also raised questions over the credibility of the justice system and said even a former premier could not get a case registered. “There are people who consider themselves above the law, which unfortunately dismantles the whole edifice of the judicial system in the country,” he lamented.