A Lahore anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday announced its reserved verdict on pre-arrest bail petitions of PTI founder Imran Khan in three cases related to the May 9 riots and dismissed them.

May 9 holds significant importance in the country’s political landscape, as it was on this day last year when military installations were attacked following Imran’s arrest from the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) premises, which formed the basis of a severe state crackdown against him and his party.

Arising from the scenario were three cases, among many against Imran, concerning attacks on the Jinnah House, also the residence of the Lahore corps commander, Askari Tower and Shadman police station. The ATC had reserved its verdict on bail petitions about the cases on Saturday.

Imran is currently serving out his sentence in the Iddat case at Adiala Jail. His sentences in the two Toshakhana cases were suspended while he was acquitted by the Islamabad High Court in the cipher case.

However, an Islamabad district and sessions court had turned down the pleas of the PTI founder and his wife to suspend their seven-year sentences in the Iddat case.

Earlier on March 1, an ATC had confirmed Imran’s pre-arrest bail in four cases, including party worker Zille Shah’s murder, attack on police outside Zaman Park and setting fire to PML-N offices in Model Town and a container at Kalma Chowk on May 9, 2023.

The trial court had previously in August, 2023, dismissed the pre-arrest bail pleas of the PTI founding chairman in seven criminal cases over his non-appearance, after he was jailed in the Toshakhana case.

Later, the Lahore High Court had set aside the ATC decision and restored Imran’s bail petitions with a direction to the trial court to decide all the petitions afresh on merit.

The PML-N government has already spoken its mind about keeping Imran in jail for its five-year term till 2029 for “economic stability”.

“People come to us and tell us if Pakistan has to progress then Imran Khan will have to be kept in jail for five years,” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said while talking to reporters last month.

He had said that if Imran came out of jail then there would be again sit-ins and fight and the country could not afford this.

“There is a voice of the people [that] Imran Khan should remain in jail for five years,” he had said

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