Imran skipped court hearings because of ‘100pc confirmed information’ of assassination bid, LHC told

Published March 16, 2023
Fawad Chaudhry speaks to media outside the LHC on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Fawad Chaudhry speaks to media outside the LHC on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday told the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the party had “100 per cent confirmed information” of an assassination attempt on PTI chief Imran Khan at the F-8 Katcheri in Islamabad where he skipped his hearing in the Toshakhana case.

Chaudhry made the revelation regarding the alleged security threat while the court took up his petition seeking to stop the “atrocities” outside Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore. The police have been trying to carry out a court-ordered arrest of the PTI chief, but have failed so far due to the stiff resistance PTI workers have mounted against them.

In response to the plea, the LHC had on Wednesday asked the police to stop the operation to apprehend the PTI chief at Zaman Park until 10am today. However, in the latest development, the court has extended the enforcement of its order until tomorrow.

The former premier was due to appear before a sessions court for indictment in the case on February 7, in which he was absent. He was then summoned on Feb 21, which he also skipped, leading the indictment to be deferred to Feb 28. Imran had that same day secured bails in three other cases — prohibited funding, terrorism and attempted murder in other courts. He failed to appear in the Toshakhana hearing, which led to the arrest warrants.

Subsequently, the PTI approached the Islamabad High Court, which ordered him to appear before the sessions court on March 13, and suspended the warrants till then. He skipped the March 13 hearing as well, which led to a second arrest warrant being issued.

As the hearing commenced today, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh remarked that the lack of understanding of the law was the cause of the issue.

He remarked that adherence to the rule of law could resolve the current impasse.

The judge went on to emphasise that all solutions to such problems could be found in the Constitution.

The judge lamented that the entire system “had been jammed” by the opposing parties.

“Sometimes you appear in this court, and at other times you turn up in the Islamabad High Court,” Justice Sheikh commented.

During the court proceedings, Advocate Azhar Siddique, representing Chaudhry, stated that the issue had become a political dispute.

Responding to this, the judge advised that both parties needed to follow the law and reminded them that the entire nation had been affected by the ongoing situation.

Chaudhry highlighted the serious nature of the security concerns. He explained that Imran Khan had appeared before four courts in Islamabad, but had missed the fifth appearance due to “confirmed information regarding an assassination attempt on him”.

In response, the judge assured that the law provided for acquiring security, and emphasised that the system had measures in place to address such concerns.

He asked Chaudhry to bring his party “into the system” to address security concerns related to the party chief.

The judge pointed out that there was a proper procedure in place within the legal system for acquiring security.

“We will provide you the policy so you may follow it,” he added.

The Advocate General of Punjab, Shan Gull, informed the court that the Islamabad High Court had made a decision regarding the arrest warrants issued for the PTI chief.

“I have not touched the issue of the arrests as of now,” the judge responded.

He remarked that neither the LHC nor the IHC stopped the implementation of the [arrest] warrants.

After hearing arguments, the court adjourned the hearing until tomorrow.

Later in a tweet, Chaudhry said the LHC had extended the orders to stop the operation at Zaman Park until tomorrow.

“The chief secretary and inspector general of police have been instructed to sit with the leadership of the PTI and resolve these matters through mutual consultation,” he said.

PTI ready to sit and talk

Separately, Chaudhry said the PTI “was ready and had no issues” with meeting with the administration to sort out matters peacefully as per the LHC orders.

Speaking to the media outside the LHC today, the PTI leader said Justice Sheikh had “extended the relief given to Lahore’s citizens yesterday” and had directed both the city administration and the PTI to “sit together and move forward after holding discussions on the matter”.

He added, “We don’t even want to worsen matters. […] To ruin peace and order would be the last thing that the PTI would want.”

The former minister also recalled Justice Sheikh’s remarks on Imran’s security: “Thirdly, he (Justice Sheikh) has said that there definitely should be security for Imran Khan, and he has said to IG sahib to give security book and security shall be provided according to it.”

He also claimed that the government wanted to distract people’s attention from the “main issues” that plague the country and wanted to delay elections by creating bloodshed.

PTI barred from holding rally in Lahore on Sunday

Meanwhile, the LHC also heard PTI leader Hammad Azhar’s petition against the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore. The court barred the party from holding its public gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan on Sunday, emphasising the need for relevant stakeholders to devise a mechanism first.

During the hearing, the court directed the petitioner to sit with the inspector general of Punjab police and chief secretary to develop a mechanism on the matter. It urged the parties concerned to allow the system to run smoothly, stressing that planning a meeting 15 days in advance is necessary.

The court also drew a parallel to marriage, noting that even that requires advance planning.

Azhar had approached the LHC earlier this week challenging the imposition of section 144 after the issuance of the election schedule in Punjab.

On behalf of the petitioner, Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that the caretaker government imposed section 144 in Lahore only to stop the PTI from holding election activities, while other parties were allowed to hold public gatherings.

He had asked the court to set aside the impugned notification issued by the district government against public gatherings and rallies under section 144.

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