PML-N plays religious card on reports of PTI’s international lawyer

Published September 3, 2023
Human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson. — Photo courtesy Wheeler Centre website
Human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson. — Photo courtesy Wheeler Centre website

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: On the reports that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is engaging eminent human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson to represent its incarcerated chief Imran Khan in international courts in relation to unlawful detention and human rights abuses, the PML-N on Saturday tried to give it a ‘religious colour,’ alleging that he (Robertson) was a lawyer of novelist Salman Rushdie and that he (Khan) is conspiring against Islam and Pakistan.

Although the PTI has refuted reports on the hiring of a foreign law firm to represent Khan internationally, PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz insists Khan’s double standards have been exposed.

“Isn’t it strange that Imran Khan chose a man to fight his case internationally who represented Salman Rushdie, a blasphemer. This shows two faces of Imran Khan. In Pakistan, Khan makes a claim of striving for Riasat-i-Madina and outside the country, he seeks the help of an anti-Islam firm,” Ms Nawaz said on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday.

A close aide to former premier Shehbaz Sharif and PML-N deputy secretary general Attaullah Tarar told a presser here that Imran had appointed Rushdie’s lawyer to represent him at the international courts and he had crossed all limits. He also framed a charge sheet against Mr Robertson, alleging that he had written against the Pakistan Army and had close relations with Israel.

PTI denies reports, saying Imran never supported such initiative

“Pakistan and Imran Khan can’t go together,” he declared.

Tarar further said the PTI, on its official account on X, had shared the news of engaging Mr Robertson for Mr Khan, which it had now deleted.

“First, the PTI did the wrong thing, then defended it and now ran away from it. Imran Khan’s this action is a conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam,” Tarar declared.

Renowned journalist Mehreen Zahra Malik said on X: “Pinning a distinguished human rights lawyer, a UN war crimes judge, a counsel in many notable Old Bailey trials, someone who has defended hundreds facing death sentences, won landmark rulings on civil liberty from the highest courts in Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth, and the founder of Doughty Street Chambers, the largest human rights practice in Europe, as “Salman Rushdie’s lawyer,” has to be a new low”.

Later on, the PTI official handle on X reposted a couple of tweets in which it was alleged that the firm in question was also hired by PML-N leader and former minister Ishaq Dar for a libel case.

Ammad Yousaf, the president of a private channel, tweeted that Ishaq Dar and Nasir Butt of the PML-N and a media tycoon had also received the services of the firm. At this, Nasir Butt dared him to telecast his tweet on his channel in the UK, reminding him that the channel had paid him about 200k pounds. He asked Yousaf not to “twist this to suit your convicted criminal leader Imran”.

Meanwhile, the PTI categorically refuted the reports regarding the hiring of a foreign law firm to raise the human violations in Pakistan in international courts. According to a PTI spokesperson, Imran never supported any such initiative even in the face of the worst state operation and suppression and open violation of the constitution and the law in the country.

He rejected all the reports being circulated in the media regarding hiring of a foreign law firm, saying that there was no truth in such reports.

“The PTI neither approached any judicial forum outside Pakistan nor has any intention to do so in future,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2023

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