LAHORE: Nine senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, secretary general Asad Umar, senators Azam Khan Swati and Waleed Iqbal, and former governor Umar Sarfraz Cheema, have been detained in different jails across the Punjab province for 30 days, the Lahore High Court (LHC) was informed on Monday.
The Punjab home and prisons department filed reports, with details about the whereabouts of each leader arrested during the PTI’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest movement), after the party and family members of the detained leaders moved habeas corpus petitions before the high court.
Interestingly, the official reports said the PTI leaders had violated the imposition of Section 144 of criminal procedure code and caused a law and order situation by disturbing security arrangements for the tournaments of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore.
According to the Punjab home and prison departments, Mr Qureshi has been detained in Attock jail, Mr Umar in Rajanpur, Mr Cheema in Bhakkar, Ahsan Dogar, Azam Khan Niazi and Mr Iqbal in Layyah, Mr Swati in Rahim Yar Khan, Murad Raas in Dera Ghazi Khan and Mohammad Khan Madani in Bahawalpur jail.
Around 150 court arrest in Sargodha on sixth day of movement
Justice Chaudhry Shehram Sarwar directed a provincial law officer to hand over the reports to the petitioners’ counsel for submission of their rejoinders.
The judge also issued notices on a separate petition against the arrest of the PTI secretary general filed by his wife, and shifting of the arrested leaders to jails of other cities by PTI vice president Fawad Chaudhry.
The judge adjourned further hearing till March 3.
At the previous hearing, Justice Sarwar had expressed his astonishment over the habeas corpus petitions for the release of the leaders who courted arrest in connection with the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ launched by former premier and PTI chairman Imran Khan.
“Why are you playing with the courts? First you asked the police to make the arrests and now you have come to the courts,” the judge had asked the counsel representing the petitioners.
The courtroom had echoed with laughter when a lawyer argued that the arrests were only ‘symbolic’ and the petitions were not filed for bail but for the protection of their fundamental rights.
Court arrest in SargodhaMeanwhile, police arrested as many as 150 local leaders and workers of the party in Sargodha.
Most of the leaders, including Ali Asghar Lahri, Ansar Majeed Khan, Ansar Haral, Farooq Bahaul Haq, Ameenul Hasnat, Ziaur Rehman Gondal, Sardar Asghar Khan Lahri, Malik Shoaib Awan and Malik Shafqat Awan along with dozens of workers courted arrest at Club Chowk.
Just a day ago, around 50 people, including ex-minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal and ex-lawmakers belonging to the PTI courted arrest in Gujranwala, though party’s ‘district leadership’ had stayed away from jails on the orders of the party high command.
A party official told Dawn that PTI Central Punjab President Dr Yasmin Rashid had directed the local office-bearers, particularly presidents and general secretaries, to refrain from arrests since the PTI would be needing them to mobilise the workers in the near future.
Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2023
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