ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday claimed the military leadership was fully on board in holding parleys with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and blamed the incumbent government’s “negligence” for the group’s resurgence.

He was speaking to reporters after attending the hearing in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on his petitions seeking bail in seven FIRs registered against him at different police stations in the federal capital.

Recently, the military distanced itself from the PTI government’s initiative of holding dialogue with TTP. ISPR chief Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry at his maiden presser recently had said: “Holding dialogue with banned TTP was the decision of the then government of Pakistan and they [previous regime] have openly admitted this as well”.

In response to a question that his government had been blamed for reconciliation with the terrorist outfit that helped them regroup, Mr Khan said the then army chief Qamar Bajwa and ISI director general were part of the decision taken to hold discussion with TTP.

Calls for rallies tomorrow in support of CJP; IHC grants ex-PM 10-day protective bail; JIT fails to serve police notice at Zaman Park

“In fact, we started talks with the Afghan government on their [TTP leaders’] repatriation,” he said.

“We were discussing their rehabilitation and while the talks were in process my government was toppled and this government did not take care about this,” he explained, adding “last year then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mahmood Khan raised this issue but his plea fell on deaf ears as nobody bothered about this, hence the situation deteriorated”.

Mr Khan said he had told the Lahore High Court (LHC) about threats to his life, adding that a senior official of a spy agency had planned to assassinate him twice.

He said no official can act without the consent of his superiors.

Court proceeding

An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb disposed of seven petitions by Mr Khan. While granting him 10 days’ protective bail, the court directed him to approach the relevant court to file pre-arrest bail.

The court, on another petition seeking Mr Khan’s trial through video link in two more cases, sought assistance from his counsel and adjourned the hearing till May 12.

While the bench was hearing Barrister Salman Safdar’s arguments, the ‘untimely’ intervention of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry irked the judge, and proceedings concluded on an unsavoury note.

Mr Chaudhry stated that the government had been openly defying the directions of high courts and Supreme Court, but PTI is the only party that is complying with the court’s directions.

He accused the district administration and police of intimidating PTI workers on the pretext of security.

The court observed that district administration and police were responsible for ensuring security and it cannot interfere into their domain.

Seeking a blanket bail granting order for the PTI chairman in all the criminal cases, Barrister Safdar argued that Mr Khan is facing serious threats to his life and it is difficult for him to seek bail from trial courts.

Justice Farooq asked the counsel to cite any such precedence as other suspects would seek similar relief.

Call for rallies

Before leaving Lahore for Islamabad, Mr Khan in a video message asked people to come out on roads to express solidarity with the Chief Justice of Pakistan, protect the Supreme Court and Constitution because a mafia was out to divide the top court and trample the Constitution.

Mr Khan gave the call for rallies in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Peshawar at 5.30pm on Saturday.

JIT fails to serve notice

In a related development, the JIT— probing cases lodged against Mr Khan and other PTI leaders — said that during a visit to Zaman Park they couldn’t get access to the crime scenes due to presence of party workers there.

The JIT officials reported to the police high-ups that they went to Mr Khan’s house as he didn’t appear before the JIT despite several summons to join investigations. The staff deputed at Mr Khan’s residence denied the JIT access to deliver a police notice for the inspection of crime scenes, the JTI said, adding the security staff and employees at Zaman Park were reluctant to receive the notice.

The PTI strongly reacted to JIT’s visit to Zaman Park when Mr Khan was away.

“The CCPO Lahore order for JIT members’ visit to Imran Khan residence is clear violation of the court order,” the PTI stated and recalled that Punjab police had also ransacked Mr Khan’s residence when he had gone to Islamabad for his appearance before the court.

Mansoor Malik and Asif Chaudhry in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2023



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