An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Monday granted Quetta police two-day transitory remand of fashion designer and PTI supporter Khadija Shah in a case pertaining to violent protests in the country on May 9.
Shah — currently incarcerated in Kot Lakhpat Jail — was arrested in cases of attacks on Lahore corps commander house, Askari Tower and torching police vehicles near Rahat bakery in cantonment. So far, all the cases registered against her were being heard in Lahore.
On Nov 15, an anti-terrorism court had granted Shah bail in the fourth and last case of May 9 protests against her. However, she was re-arrested on Nov 17 under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance for 30 days.
Shah had subsequently challenged the detention in the Lahore High Court as “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
Today, the Punjab government submitted a notification in the LHC, stating that it had withdrawn Shah’s detention orders “with immediate affect”.
However, before Shah could be released, the Quetta police filed a request in the ATC of Judge Abhar Gul seeking her transit remand. The court accepted the request and granted the investigating officer Shah’s custody for two days.
It also directed the Quetta police to present Shah in court on Dec 13.
Punjab IG appears before LHC
Meanwhile, during the hearing of Shah’s petition against her detention under 3-MPO today, Barrister Sameer Khosa told LHC’s Justice Ali Baqar Najafi about the ATC decision to remand the PTI supporter in Quetta police custody.
The judge subsequently directed the police to present Shah in court by 2:30pm, warning that he would otherwise summon the Punjab police chief Usman Anwar over the matter.
When the hearing resumed, IG Anwar appeared in court and said Shah was taken into custody by a Quetta police team at 10:30am today. Here, the judge asked the Punjab police chief to provide in writing when was Shah handed over.
At one point, Shah’s lawyer Khosa said his client had challenged the transitory remand to which Justice Najafi asked if the petition was fixed for hearing.
“Which car was Khadija Shah taken in?” the judge further asked. In response, IG Anwar said he was unaware about this.
“Is Khadija Shah still within the limits of Punjab?” Justice Najafi inquired. “I don’t know anything, you called me and I am here,” the police officer replied.
When Barrister Khosa demanded that Shah’s remand be cancelled, the judge remarked that the same was not possible and the court had to function as per the law.
Shah’s legal troubles
Shah’s legal situation stems from her arrest during the nationwide unrest on May 9 and 10, triggered by the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The ensuing protests turned violent and included attacks on military and state installations.
On the same day, Shah shared videos on her social media accounts, showcasing her involvement in the PTI protest outside the Jinnah House, the residence of the Lahore corps commander. Subsequently, numerous protesters were detained, and Shah faced multiple charges for her alleged role in vandalism and attacks on security installations.
Shah had voluntarily turned herself in to the police on May 23 after her name was associated with the May 9 riots, leading to her arrest on the same day. The designer is implicated in four cases connected to the events of May 9. She got bail in all cases but had thus far been unable to secure release.
In October, Shah penned an open letter from Central Jail, Kot Lakhpat, explaining the unfolding tragedy faced by 18 imprisoned women, seeking empathy and humanity.
In a five-page handwritten letter, shared by her husband, Shah described “heart-wrenching” accounts of separation, pain, and suffering among the May 9 prisoners. She asserted that each prisoner, including herself, has borne unimaginable punishment.
During a hearing last week, she also expressed her desire to contest the next general elections.