An Islamabad court on Saturday sent Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and PTI ally Sheikh Rashid to jail on 14 days judicial remand after he was arrested on Thursday for allegedly making defamatory remarks against the PPP leadership.
An Islamabad court had granted police his two-day physical remand on Thursday for remarks he made against former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Rashid was presented today before the court of Judicial Magistrate Umar Shabbir amid strict security, where the police requested the court for another five-day physical remand of the AML chief along with a photogrammetric test.
However, his lawyers, Abdul Razzaq Khan and Intizar Panjhota, asked for all cases against him to be dismissed. The court sent Rashid on a 14-day judicial remand while rejecting the police request for a physical remand.
While being brought to the court, Rashid told reporters that if anything happened to him on his way to Karachi, “Asif Zardari, Bilawal, Shehbaz, Mohsin Naqvi […]” should be held responsible.
Earlier in the day, the AML chief filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to nullify cases filed against him in Murree and Karachi, along with orders to prevent the police from taking him to Karachi until a final decision on the case is announced.
Later today, the investigation officer (IO) and the inspector for the case registered against Rashid in Karachi’s Mochko police station appeared in the Islamabad court.
The IO requested the court to grant the Sindh police a transit remand of the AML chief so they could transfer him to Karachi. However, Rashid’s lawyer requested the court to grant bail in return for surety bonds as the sections registered in the case were bailable.
The court rejected the police’s request for transit remand while issuing a notice for Rashid’s bail petition to be heard on Feb 6 (Monday).
Asking if they had taken permission for investigating the case registered in Karachi, the court directed the police to seek permission first and then request a transit remand.
At the outset of the hearing, Rashid demanded that he be sent to the hospital as there was “blood on my feet and hands”. “I won’t beg them but just get my hands bandaged. I was kept tied to chairs; may speaking lies be damned.”
He alleged that his “hands, feet and eyes were kept tied from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock” and asked for security by Rangers. Upon the court’s orders, his handcuffs were then opened.
The judge asked if Rashid would show him the blood that he said was on his hands. He remarked that Rashid’s “hands do not have blood on them” to which the AML chief replied that he had “wiped it off”.
The police then requested for his photogrammetric test to be done while informing the court that his voice-matching test had been conducted.
In response, Rashid said, “Ask them to bring their record [that] where was I kept for six hours.” The judge then asked Rashid to wait for the police to present their arguments.
The prosecutor said, “We conducted the tests we could in the given time.”
Rashid’s lawyer Razzaq opposed the physical remand request while claiming that the case was “made on political bases”. He alleged that the AML chief was tortured while in custody.
“Sheikh Rashid is 73 years old and [yet] was tortured. Who gave the station house officer the order to torture Sheikh Rashid? You can ask questions according to the law but it does not allow torture.”
He argued the sections registered against Sheikh Rashid “are not applicable”, adding that his client was “tortured at night”. “Sheikh Rashid was handed over to the police for a two-day physical remand investigation but the police tortured him.”
The lawyer claimed that further physical remand was being requested to “make Sheikh Rashid a target of political vendettas”. He said the prosecution had Rashid’s statement’s video and was accepting he made the statement.
Rashid then said: “What case can be filed on Imran Khan’s statement that he has evidence [of the claims]? The person who said he has evidence is being sent legal notices.”
The judge asked the lawyer to read out the transcript of Rashid’s statement, after which the politician asserted that his statement was recorded four times. “I quoted Imran Khan’s statement and I stand by it.”
His lawyer then lamented that multiple cases were being filed on “political bases”, mentioning one request submitted in Rawalpindi’s Sadiqabad police station and another FIR filed in Balochistan’s Lasbela.
Advocate Razzaq asserted, “The photogrammetric test is not needed as Sheikh Rashid is standing by his statement. Granting further physical remand is not needed; in fact, he should be discharged from the case.”
Upon completion of Razzaq’s arguments, Advocate Panjhota began his. He said a court had issued notices for the next hearing in a contempt of court case filed against the police after the IHC had suspended the police’s notice.
He argued that remand cannot be granted when a matter is ongoing in a high court. Opposing all the sections registered in the case, he said, “Considering the situation of the atrocities in the country, the judiciary is people’s last hope.”
Demanding that the prosecution be asked about the progress made during the two-day physical remand, Panjhota claimed that a “political investigation” was conducted from Rashid. “Sheikh Rashid was asked where will he go after Imran Khan’s disqualification.”
Rashid then began presenting his statements: “The person who opened my Twitter account has died. The police have both my mobiles. I was asked how did I gain eight million followers within a day; I would ask the people to double my followers on Twitter.”
He claimed, “Political investigation was conducted from me but not regarding the case. They asked if I would run Imran Khan’s political campaign; I said ‘Yes, I will run’.”
The court then reserved the verdict to be pronounced at 4pm.
Meanwhile, during his talk to journalists in the courtroom, Rashid said he was being asked for his Twitter ID and password, adding that he did not have it.
“They want to take me to Karachi and kill me. I ask the whole nation to come on Twitter and support me. […] I will fight till my last breath and will stand with Imran Khan.”
Rashid said, “I am participating in the elections as per Imran Khan’s orders. If I will be in jail, I would address the nation via Twitter. They have decided to not let Imran Khan come to power.”
He added, “I am announcing a war along with Imran Khan. […] I will do what Imran Khan will say.”
‘Being sent to Karachi to be killed’
Rashid’s nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafique, issued a statement today on Rashid’s behalf, who claimed that he was being taken to Karachi “to be killed”. “He (Rashid) said: ‘If anything happens to me, an FIR should be filed against Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and Rana Sanaullah.’,” Shafique added.
Rashid to file another petition
Separately, another petition has been prepared to be submitted soon to the local magistrate court.
Naming Zardari, Bilawal, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Sanaullah, the petition demanded they be held responsible and taken action against in case any harm was caused to Rashid.
It said: “During the arrest, if Sheikh Rashid loses his life, then the named personalities would be responsible for it. If any harm is caused to Sheikh Rashid, then action should be taken against the named suspects.”
The petition claimed that the AML chief was being “made a target of political vendettas for raising his voice for Imran Khan”.
It requested that the Punjab and Sindh inspector generals and home secretaries guarantee his life is protected.
Rashid was arrested on a police complaint filed by Raja Inayatur Rehman, the vice president of PPP Rawalpindi Division, wherein he said that the AML chief, in an interview with ARY’s Waseem Badami on Jan 27, alleged that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari recruited terrorists to plan Imran’s murder. His remarks can be heard from the 38-second mark.
PTI chief Imran Khan in a television address on Jan 27 had alleged that Zardari was behind a fresh assassination plot — a “plan C” — and that a terror group had been engaged for the purpose. He offered no evidence to back up his accusation.
Subsequently, an Islamabad court had granted police two-day physical remand of the AML leader.
Another case was also registered against him at the Murree police station under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public function) and 506(ii) (criminal intimidation) of the PPC for manhandling a police official at the time of the arrest.
However, it emerged on Friday that yet another case was lodged against Rashid by Karachi’s Mochko police on the complaint of a local PPP leader. The FIR said Rashid on social media used “extremely filthy and immoral language” against PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to the media outside Islamabad’s Polyclinic Hospital.
However, in the latest development, Rashid submitted a plea to the IHC urging the court to bar authorities from filing new cases against him on the basis of his political statements.
The PTI ally named 11 respondents in his plea including the interior secretary, CCPO Karachi, Islamabad and Karachi police chiefs as well as PPP’s Raja Inayat who had submitted a plea against him.
Filed through his counsel Abdul Razzaq Khan, the petition said the plaintiff was not an affected party in the case registered against Rashid.
The petitioner urged the court to issue directions to direct authorities against shifting him to Karachi related to the case probe.
“The impugned FIRs registered at Murree and Karachi be declared as an illegal, unlawful, result of abuse of powers and misuse of authority or in the alternate, the case registered at Karachi be ordered to be shifted to Islamabad in accordance with section 234, 235 and 239 of CrPC where the case is already registered,” the petition reads.
According to the plea, the registration of cases against the petitioner “is not only the worst example of political victimisation but a gross misuse of power and transgression of authority by the police.”
Clampdown on PTI leaders
Rashid’s arrest comes amid a raft of legal moves against PTI leaders and their allies. Last week, PTI Fawad Chaudhry was arrested for allegedly making threats against ECP members’ families. He later received bail.
PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi said his Gujrat house was raided. A sedition case was filed against former PTI MNA Shandana Gulzar Khan. Imran Khan-leaning journalist Imran Riaz Khan was also arrested but a Lahore court dismissed the case.
And before Rashid’s arrest, his famed Lal Haveli residence in Rawalpindi was sealed by authorities. Two units of Lal Haveli and five adjoining units were sealed by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the FIA over “illegal occupation”.
Subsequently, Rashid approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the move, stating that the ETPB officials were “misusing their powers under the orders of political high-ups”. Admitting his plea, the LHC ordered the board to settle matters of the property’s ownership within 15 days and also chided the ETPB for its ambiguous stance pertaining to the issue.
It is pertinent to mention that the government had distanced itself from Rashid’s arrest. In a statement, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah asserted that the government had nothing to do with Rashid’s arrest.
The minister said it was the duty of the police to take action in case there is a violation of law. Sanaullah said all were equal before the law and those who broke the law would be held accountable.
“Tell the court if you have not done anything illegal,” he said.