PESHAWAR: Following a day-long drama, the Peshawar High Court Wednesday night granted protective bail to PTI central leader Zartaj Gul Wazir in multiple cases registered against her in different cities.

A single-member bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan directed the local police not to arrest the petitioner (Ms Zartaj) and asked her to approach the relevant court.

During the day, the chief justice was reportedly in Islamabad in connection with an official meeting and returned to the high court at around 9:10pm.

Till the assembling of the bench, Ms Gul took ‘shelter’ in the barroom and was reluctant to leave the court premises as a huge police force remained present around the high court throughout the day.

Another leader Aiman Tahir arrested outside high court

One of her counsels, Syed Sikander Hayat Shah, told Dawn that as far as they knew there were seven cases registered against her mostly related to May 9 protests.

Soon after starting the proceedings the bench summoned the Peshawar capital city police officer and the senior superintendent of police (operation).

KP Advocate General Aamir Javed also turned up before the bench, whereas members of Insaf Lawyers Forum, affiliated with the PTI were also present in large numbers.

Earlier, in the morning she reached the high court hoodwinking the police posted at the entrance of the high court as she had covered her face with a mask and was wearing a black coat normally used by lawyers.

Interesting situation emerged as by the time her petition was filed the court timings had already ended and it could not be taken up for hearing by the bench, which was functioning during the winter vacations of the court.

Ms Zartaj Gul, while talking to media persons, broke down into tears and stated that she was sister of a martyr and a patriotic citizen.

“I wonder whether I am contesting elections or fighting a war,” she said, adding that she stood with an ideology and had defeated a Dera Ghazi Khan feudal in 2018 elections.

She said that first her proposer and seconder, who were both females, were arrested and then her nomination papers were rejected on the ground that she (Zartaj) was a PO (proclaimed offender).

“I have now surrendered to the high court seeking relief and won’t leave the premises till provided justice,” she said.

“Don’t set an example out of me. I have not committed any crime and am only exercising my right to contest polls,” she said amid sobs.

She questioned that being sister of a martyr why would she bring into disrespect martyrs of the army. She claimed that PML-N wanted to depict the ongoing situation as a war between the PTI and the army, but that was not the fact as PTI respected armed forces.

Throughout the day, police personnel in plain clothes were roaming inside the high court to get a clue what was going to happen to her case.

Meanwhile, another female leader of PTI Ms Aiman Tahir was arrested outside the Peshawar High Court.

A single-member bench of Justice Mohammad Ijaz Khan accepted protective/transit bail plea of Aiman Tahir, stated to be a candidate of PTI from Attock, in a case pertaining to May 9 protests there.

However, while she had yet to submit bail bonds and receive attested copy of the court’s order, she went out of the high court and was whisked away by local police, who were present in large numbers around the court premises.

While a huge police force including female cops had been deputed in the area around the Peshawar High Court, the lawyers belonging to PTI claimed that they were deputed for arresting PTI leaders approaching the court.

The local police, however, claimed that they were there for security purpose.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2024

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