ISLAMABAD: With the dismissal of former prime minister Imran Khan’s pre-arrest bail petitions in the Rs190 million Al-Qadir Trust and the Toshakhana cases by an accountability court on Thursday, chances for him securing an early release appear to be fading.

Mr Khan has two Toshakhana cases registered against him. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) accused him of concealing certain facts from declarations he made before it, and got him convicted. The other Toshakhana case is being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for corrupt practice and misuse of authority allegedly by the ex-premier.

Following Mr Khan’s Aug 5 conviction by a trial court, his legal team moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the verdict and sought suspension of the sentence. However, the IHC chief justice made it clear on Wednesday that he would decide the petition after hearing the officials concerned.

PTI’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had sought adjournment for a short period so that the court could decide the case in a week’s time and they were optimistic about Mr Khan’s release by next week. However, with the rejection of his petition by IHC, the chances of an early freedom for Mr Khan have faded.

Since NAB has already issued warrants for him, it would arrest him whenever he is discharged from jail.

On Thursday, accountability judge Mohammed Bashir sarcastically remarked that Mr Khan would get some respite in the NAB custody as its air-conditioned lock-up is way better than the barrack of Attock jail.

Khawaja Haris argued before the accountability court that Mr Khan is likely to be released within a week and requested the judge to extend his interim bail in both the cases till Friday.

NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi cited a decision of the Supreme Court in the Musharraf case in which the apex court had ruled that “an accused required in more than one criminal cases when arrested will be deemed to have been arrested in all the cases”.

Judge Mohammed Bashir observed that he is not authorised to grant pre-arrest bail in absence of the accused.

He said “short adjournment could be granted, but in the present case the accused is serving out his sentence in jail. The case for suspension of sentence might be fixed next week.”

The court termed extending Mr Khan’s interim bail “a time-consuming process” and dismissed his pre-arrest bail petitions in both the cases.

Bushra visits Imran

Former first lady Bushra Bibi met her husband Imran Khan at the Attock jail for the first time since he was jailed.

Amid heightened security she approached the jail along with lawyers.

However, only Bushra Bibi was allowed to reach the jail and the meeting between the two lasted about an hour.

Later, she said her husband was well, Mr Khan’s lawyer said.

He said Bushra Bibi told them that Mr Khan was still being kept in the same smaller, more austere C-class cell, Reuters reported.

Sources claimed that lawyers Naeem Panjutha, Sher Afzal Marwat and Ali Ijaz Buttar were not allowed to meet the PTI chairman though they had showed the authorities court orders to this effect.

Later, Bushra Bibi left for Lahore, the sources said.

Amjad Iqbal in Taxila also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2023

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