ISLAMABAD: A day after the top military brass vowed to try the “masterminds and planners” of May 9 violence in military courts, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan expressed apprehensions that the “stage has been set for his court martial”.

Talking to reporters after appearing before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday in connection with 10 different cases, including two ongoing petitions and eight new bail petitions, Mr Khan said he knew that he will be tried by a military court. He termed a civilian’s trial in the military court as the “end of democracy” and the “end of justice”. “The trial in the military court will be illegal,” he said.

A day earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accused Mr Khan of planning the violence that erupted after his arrest in a corruption case.

According to Mr Khan, he would be tried under the Army Act because the cases registered against him were ‘baseless’. “They knew that over 150 cases registered against me are baseless and there is no chance of my conviction in these bogus cases, therefore, they have decided to conduct my trial in the military court,” said the PTI chairman. He dispelled the impression of being sidelined within the party and also dismissed the rumours about leaving Pakistan.

“In a democracy, the people have powers to minus someone in the politics and the party, no one has the authority to minus a politician in a civilized society,” he said. He further said that he has never even thought of leaving Pakistan and added that he did not have the resources to stay abroad.

“I don’t have money to live in any other country because the [UK] pound has crossed Rs400 and I can’t afford to stay there,” he said. He also rejected the rumours of a “bitter” meeting with PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and said that he has cordial relations with Mr Qureshi.

He criticised the government’s crackdown on his party workers and members of PTI’s social media team. He was of the view that action should be taken against those who were involved in sabotage activities on May 9, however, the incident could not be used to justify mass arrests.

NAB grills Imran

Separately, the PTI chairman spent four hours in the office of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi and replied in detail to the queries of the accountability watchdog in the 140m pounds Al Qadir corruption case.

Sources in the NAB said Mr Khan was accompanied by his wife Bushra Bibi who remained in the car during the entire period. After providing details about his alleged role in the case, the former prime minister left for Lahore. It was Mr Khan’s second appearance in the case. During the last hearing, he was asked to provide further details regarding the questions asked by the NAB.

Relief from IHC

Earlier, the PTI chief filed petitions seeking bail in eight cases. These cases were based on the First Information Reports (FIRs) registered at five police stations in Islamabad and one related to the murder of a senior lawyer in Quetta.

In FIRs registered at Khanna, Shahzad Town, Tarnol, Karachi Company, and Kohsar police stations, the PTI chairman has been accused of inciting people to block highways and attacking police. In the FIR registered with Kohsar Police, the PTI chairman, his spouse Bushra Bibi, Shahzad Akbar and Zulfi Bukhari were accused of fraud to sell Toshakhana watches.

Mr Khan was also nominated in an FIR registered in Quetta for allegedly abetting the murder of SC lawyer Abdul Razzaq Shar, who was seeking sedition proceedings against the former prime minister.

IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb granted 14 days protective bail to Mr Khan and directed him to surrender before the court of competent jurisdiction.

IHC Chief Justice Farooq also granted protective bail to Mr Khan in rest of the FIRs till June 12 directing him to seek pre-arrest bail from the courts concerned.

Meanwhile, Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Sikandar Khan granted interim bail to Mr Khan till June 19 in the case registered against him over violation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Mr Khan requested the court to order the police of recording his statement through a video link. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) also extended his pre-arrest interim bail in eight cases till June 19.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023

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