PTI supporter and fashion designer Khadija Shah was released by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Quetta on Thursday for want of evidence in a case relating to incitement to violence on May 9, according to her lawyer.

Khadija was arrested in cases of attacks on the Lahore corps commander’s house, Askari Tower and torching police vehicles near Rahat bakery in the cantonment on May 9.

On Nov 15, an anti-terrorism court had granted her 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. She had subsequently challenged the detention in the Lahore High Court as “unlawful and unconstitutional” and on December 11, the Punjab government submitted a notification in the LHC, stating that it had withdrawn her detention orders “with immediate effect”.

However, before she could be released, the Quetta police had filed a request in the ATC of Judge Abhar Gul seeking her transit remand. The court accepted the request and granted the investigating officer her custody for two days. Khadija was produced before Judge Sadat Bazai again after the expiry of her three-day police remand on December 16 and reman­ded again in police cus­­­tody for seven days.

Her counsel Syed Iqbal Shah told Dawn.com today that the Balochistan Prosecution Department dropped Khadija’s name from the first information report, citing a lack of concrete evidence against the PTI supporter.

Syed Iqbal said that he had applied to the ATC arguing that Khadija’s name was included in cases on the May 9 violence, however, the police did not have any concrete evidence against her in this regard.

He said he had requested the court that his client’s name should be dropped based on lack of evidence.

Iqbal said that the police had requested Khadija’s further remand in a court hearing today for more investigation, adding that the ATC had asked for further evidence which was not provided by the police.

He said the government prosecutor present had told the ATC that the prosecution department had dropped her name from the case under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code due to a lack of concrete evidence. The judge subsequently ordered her release.

Reacting to the news of the day-old development, PTI leader Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari said he was “extremely happy” that Khadija was on her way back to her family.

In a post on his X account, Bukhari said: “ Her resilience and strength is an inspiration to us all. Wishing her a peaceful time with her family and may Allah give her strength to continue to be the strong, wonderful person she is.“

Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir congratulated Khadija on her release after seven months,

“Her prolonged imprisonment was a way to punish her without a trial,” Nasir said on X, adding that “nine women arrested in relation to May 9 incidents are still behind bars paying the price for their political beliefs.”

Actor Osman Khalid Butt said it took seven months for “some semblance of justice” for the fashion designer.

“What happened to Khadija Shah — and all the peaceful protestors imprisoned post-May 9 — is unconscionable. May the remaining nine women be released soon,” he said.

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