ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be a repeat of the exercise carried out by the capital police on Sept 1, which infuriated Lahore High Court, PTI President and former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was again arrested on Tuesday, this time in a terrorism, theft and dacoity case.

He was taken into custody shortly after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the order of his detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance.

Islamabad police earlier re-arrested the PTI leader near his Gulberg residence in Lahore on Sept 1, soon after he had been set free by the Lahore High Court, with a restraining order against his possible arrest by any agency or preventive detention.

Soon after the arrest on Tuesday, the capital police on their official X (formerly Twitter) account published two posts with a gap of eight minutes related to Mr Elahi. In the first post at 6:22pm, the police stated, “Parvez Elahi has been sent on the order of the court.” But they did not mention where he has been sent. In their second post at 6:30pm, the police claimed, “CTD police station arrested Parvez Elahi in a case No 3/23.”

Islamabad officials issued show-cause, directed to produce ex-CM before LHC today

Also on Tuesday, the LHC ordered the Islamabad commissioner and police chief to produce Mr Elahi on Sept 6 and issued show-cause notices to two police officials of Rawalpindi and Attock, on a petition of the PTI president’s wife Qaisera Elahi.

Sources said Mr Elahi was arrested in connection with the case, registered in March, though he had not even been nominated in it. They said the police arrested him on the grounds that he could be among the hundreds of unidentified suspects facing multiple charges under Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Pakistan Penal Code.

The FIR was registered at CTD police station on March 18 and 76 persons including PTI leaders Ali Amin Gandapur, Murad Saeed, Shibli Faraz, Hassaan Khan Niazi, Omer Ayub Khan, Asad Qasir, Amjad Khan Niazi, Hammad Azhar, Khurram Nawaz, Jamshed Mughal, Amir Kiani, Farrukh Habib, Dr Shahzad Wasim, Lt Col (rtd) Mohammad Asim and Umer Sultan had been nominated, besides 250 to 300 unknown persons.

According to the FIR, the nominated PTI leaders brought a mob and provoked them for vandalism and terrorism. They set fire to different items, damaged police pickets, surrounded Judicial Complex G-11/1, entered it by breaking the main gate, pelted stone and damaged the windowpanes, iron grills, and wires at the complex.

Detention ended

Earlier in the day, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri of the IHC had suspended the PTI president’s detention order on a petition.

The counsel for Mr Elahi, Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan, argued before the court that his client had been in police custody since June 1 despite the fact that he had not committed any offence and there was no evidence in support of allegations levelled in the detention order.

He said the LHC while ordering the petitioner’s release had “categorically mentioned that the ‘petitioner shall not be arrested in terms mentioned therein including the NAB or any other authority / agency / office etc., nor shall be detained under any law relating to preventive detention’.”

But the police did not follow the order and apprehended him while he was returning home, on the basis of impugned order dated Sept 1, the counsel said. He argued no case was registered against him for provoking or creating disturbance of law and order situation or participation in any activity harmful to public safety.

While suspending the detention order, Justice Jahangiri noted that prima-facie it was established that the impugned order had been passed without having any lawful authority, incriminating evidence, and in violation of the LHC order. The IHC then ordered the Islamabad DC as well as the petitioner to appear, in person, on Sept 12.

Sub-jail

Police sources said Mr Elahi had been in the custody of the capital police since Monday afternoon. He was taken into custody from Pims and shifted to Police Lines Headquarters, where he was detained till the police arrested him again, they said, adding the police installation was declared ‘a sub-jail’.

As the deputy commissioner is an authority to declare any building a sub-jail to detain a person, who is arrested under MPO (Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance) or on judicial remand, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon was approached for comment over the issue of ‘sub-jail’, but he was not available.

DIG Awais Ahmad, who heads the police public relations branch, also deflected when asked for comment.

LHC orders Elahi’s production

On the other hand: Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf of the LHC hearing a petition of Mr Elahi’s wife issued show-cause notices to Rawalpindi and Attock police chiefs and ordered the Islamabad commissioner and police chief to appear in person and produce Mr Elahi on Wednesday (today).

Justice Amjad Rafiq the other day ordered the district and sessions judge of Attock to recover the PTI leader from the jail and hand him over to the Rawalpindi police for his production before the court on Tuesday.

At the outset, Justice Rauf asked a law officer of the caretaker government of Punjab about Mr Elahi’s whereabouts. Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nahang said he was in Attock jail before being shifted to PIMS, Islamabad, for medical emergency. Later, he added, the former chief minister was taken to Islamabad police lines, which was also declared ‘sub-jail’ by the commissioner.

Attock district and sessions judge Asad Ali, jail’s deputy superintendent Afzaal Ahmad and DSP Iftikhar Malik also appeared before the court.

When the judge was informed that the jail superintendent could not leave the jail due to strict monitoring of the security arrangements, following the detention of PTI chairman Imran Khan, the former agreed, but then issued notices to the Rawalpindi police chief and the Attock police chief for not appearing before the court.

When the law officer argued that the petition before the LHC should be disposed of as being infructuous after the IHC had suspended the detention order under the MPO, Justice Rauf reminded him that he was not issuing a new order but enforcing the previous one, which the government could challenge if it had an objection to it.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2023

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