• PTI chairman refuses to meet officials due to ‘security concerns’
• Former PM fails to secure relief in two cases

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: A day after Islamabad police returned empty-handed from its mission to arrest Imran Khan, former prime minister Imran Khan refused to cooperate with a National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) team on Monday, which visited his house in Zaman Park to serve summons in connection with the prohibited funding case.

On the other hand, the PTI chairman failed to secure relief from the Lahore High Court and a lower court in Islamabad in cases pertaining to violence outside the judicial complex in the federal capital and the Toshakhana matter.

Still reeling from the visit of the police team a day earlier, PTI supporters gathered outside Mr Khan’s residence were on edge, resulting in a tense atmosphere during the visit of the NAB team.

After spending some time waiting at Zaman Park, the two-member team returned without seeing the ousted premier owing to “security concerns”. As it made its way back to Pindi, a few PTI workers present at the scene asked the team if they had delivered the summons.

“Summons are not rece­i­ved,” one of the officials respo­nded. Sources said NAB had summoned Imran Khan on March 9.

Last week, a NAB Rawal­pindi team visited Zaman Park and served summons on Mr Khan and his wife to appear before a combined investigation team in the Toshakhana gifts probe on March 9. Mr Khan’s lawyer had received the summons at the time.

No relief from LHC

Separately, the LHC registrar’s office returned two petitions filed by Mr Khan, seeking interim protective bail in cases pertaining to the judicial complex attack and the Toshakhana case.

The office refused to fix the petitions for the hearing due to non-provision of necessary documents by the petitioner. Advocate Azhar Siddique took the petitions back to furnish the required documents, including the copies of the orders of bail granted to other PTI leaders, in the case concerning the attack on the judicial complex. However, the lawyer did not file the petitions afresh until the end of office hours.

Plea rejected by session judge

In Islamabad, Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal rejected a plea seeking the cancellation of non-bailable warrants issued for Mr Khan’s arrest at the complaint of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

In the order, the judge noted that “the accused was in a position to appear in the court on Feb 28… but he wilfully avoided to appear in this court.” It said that the warrant was issued for the appearance of the accused but he was still not present in the court. “The accused has not surrendered himself before the court till yet and no application for his personal appearance for today is annexed for the record,” it added.

During the course of the hearing, Mr Khan’s counsel Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that the PTI chief had planned to appear before the trial court on Feb 28, but he had to appear in an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), banking court, as well as in the Islamabad High Court on the same day.

He argued that Mr Khan is appearing before the courts despite the threats to his life and his absence was not deliberate. Barrister Gohar requested the court to cancel the arrest warrants.

The court noted that in addition to the criminal complaint lodged by the ECP, Imran Khan was skipping proceedings in a private complaint registered against him under Section 174 of the Elections Act. The judge further noted that the said complaint was admitted for regular hearing on Dec 15, 2022, and Mr Khan was summoned on January 09, 2023.

Separately, in a comment on Imran Khan’s refusal to cooperate with the police and NAB, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Imran Khan will have to appear before the court at the next hearing, otherwise, he will be presented before the judge.

According to APP, the minister claimed PTI leaders had “dramatised the situation when the Islamabad police team reached Lahore to arrest Imran Khan”. The minister said any verdict in the case against Imran Khan would be implemented by the government.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2023

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