ISLAMABAD: Incar­cerated former prime minister Imran Khan has sought personal appearance and live streaming of the Supreme Court proceedings on his petition seeking to set aside the amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) introduced by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government.

A week earlier, he appeared before the top court via video link as a petitioner in the matter, but did not get a chance to speak.

Mr Khan submitted an application to the court in this regard through Adiala jail authorities, his counsel told media persons on Wednesday.

Talking to the reporters after the hearing of GBP190 million corruption reference, the PTI founding chairman said: “I have a match on May 30 in the Supreme Court.”

He said he was convicted thrice before the Feb 8 elections, but people voted for the PTI despite all the negative propaganda. “They were thinking that the PTI would avoid the elections; however, the returning officers of Islamabad were on the run,” he said, claiming that his party had won the elections in Islamabad with a huge margin.

The former premier argued that election tribunals should have delivered their verdicts by now, given that it has been over three months since the general election.

He also denounced the Punjab government’s introduction of the defamation law, calling it an attempt to silence the media and restrict freedom of the press.

He alleged that the PTI is being intimidated and prevented from holding public gatherings, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, in contrast, has not falsely implicated anyone in legal cases.

Mr Khan said he is aware of who was responsible for the attack on Raoof Hassan, and this incident reveals that the system is being controlled through force and intimidation. He called upon his party to prepare for street protests in response to the attack on PTI leader.

Mr Khan explained that the PTI is exercising restraint due to the fragile state of the economy, which cannot withstand large-scale protests. However, he hinted that the party will react during the upcoming budget session.

He lambasted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for seeking sacrifices from the nation, asserting that a leader can only make such a request if he has made personal sacrifices for the country. He accused the Sharif family and Asif Zardari of stashing their wealth in foreign countries and demanded that they bring back their money to Pakistan.

He commended the judges for upholding the rule of law and observed that the judiciary is finally breaking free from the shackles of fear, demonstrating its independence and commitment to justice.

Mr Khan said he used the funds generated from selling Toshakhana gifts to construct the Banigala road.

He welcomed the release of PTI Central President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and paid tribute to his resilience. However, he also noted that Mr Elahi’s release would have come much sooner if he had chosen to sever ties with the PTI.

Cipher case

The Islamabad High Court could not conclude the hearing on Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s appeals against their conviction in the cipher case due to the absence of Special Prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah, who was unable to appear before the court because of his mother’s illness.

An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Minagul Hassan Aurangzeb resumed hearing of the appeals.

Meanwhile, another Special Prosecutor, Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi, submitted an application to the court, seeking to place additional evidence on court’s record.

He argued that since the appeals hearing is a continuation of the trial, the prosecution has the legal right to present additional evidence, including documents received after the trial concluded, as permitted by law.

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that the application was apparently moved to delay the hearing by another two to three months.

Justice Farooq directed the prosecution to conclude their arguments by Thursday (today) by all means.

The court also grilled the state counsel representing Mr Khan and Mr Qureshi during cross-examination, after the trial court judge barred the defence counsel from using ‘delaying tactics’.

Lead defence counsel Barrister Salman Safdar told the court that the defence side had no objection to the working of state counsel.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024

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