ISLAMABAD: PTI chief Imran Khan, in his third submission to the Supreme Court hearing a contempt petition against him, has argued that the decision to proceed to Islamabad’s D-Chowk during his party’s May 25 protest in the capital was made in response to the “violence and brutality” unleashed on his supporters by the government.
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a five-judge bench is hearing the federal government’s case against the PTI leadership, including Imran Khan, for reneging on categorical assurances earlier given in relation to the May 25 Azadi March.
Additionally, an interior ministry submission before the apex court on Thursday claimed that Mr Khan’s response was “factually incorrect and wholly inaccurate”, providing tweets, video messages, and call records to the Supreme Court, showing that the PTI chief and his party’s leadership were well-aware of the orders.
In his fresh response, submitted before the court on Thursday, Mr Khan claimed that the decision to proceed to D-Chowk, instead of the H-9/G-9 ground, was a response to the violence committed on part of the federal government.
This decision, the three-page reply asserted, was taken long before the May 25 order of the apex court was issued at 6:05pm and that the call to reach D-Chowk was intended to be a protest gathering, distinct from the political gathering for which permission had been “unlawfully denied by the government”.
It was in these stressful circumstances that PTI chairman could gain information of the 6:05pm May 25 verbal order of the apex court through political activists, the reply said, adding that those activists, in turn, could gain access to social media platforms by avoiding the effect of jamming.
Although in an earlier submission, the PTI chief had insisted that the contents of the SC order “were not and could not have been directly communicated to him” due to jamming, the fresh submission stated that he had not claimed that jamming made communication “impossible”, rather “impractical”.
The response came against the backdrop of federal government’s claim that the PTI leadership was in contact with each other and constantly tweeting and giving interviews from the container on May 25.
The reply however stated that given the restrictions imposed on the electronic media on May 25 regarding the telecast of the political activities of the PTI chief, the use of social media platforms for sending out tweets and other content was a necessity.
For those who were part of the cavalcade, this could be done by moving out of the jamming range or by periodically causing gaps in jamming, the reply said adding most of the social media activity was carried out by persons managing twitter and other accounts at diverse places.
The reply explained that his counsel Babar Awan and Faisal Fareed Chaudhry were instructed to appear on PTI chairman behalf and that they were the two individuals who could have adequately and reliably informed him of the May 25 verbal order.
On their assurance the court had made an express direction requiring Secretary Interior as well as Inspector General Police Islamabad as well as Punjab and Deputy commissioner Attock to facilitate a meeting of the designated PTI leadership in Islamabad and the safe return to Islamabad of PTI leadership so as to be able to meet with the government appointed committee by 10:00 p.m.
But this direction by the court was flagrantly disregarded by the concerned officials under the control of the federal government the reply contended.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022