In an unexpected development, Imran Khan, the leader of PTI, was taken into custody from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday after attending two hearings. The arrest was made in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case, according to a statement released by the Islamabad police.
The case accuses Imran Khan and his wife of receiving billions of rupees from a real estate firm to legalize an amount of Rs50 billion that had been laundered and repatriated to Pakistan by the UK during the previous PTI government.
The Interior Minister claims that Imran Khan failed to attend court despite receiving multiple notifications. Meanwhile, a lawyer for PTI has alleged that Imran was assaulted during the arrest, being struck on the head and already injured leg. The Islamabad High Court is currently considering the legality of Imran’s detention, with the verdict still pending.
Asad Umar has stated that a committee led by Shah Mahmood Qureshi will decide on the next steps. Protests have been reported in several cities. Despite this, the police chief has reassured the public that the situation in Islamabad is “normal,” with Section 144 enforced and penalties for anyone who violates it.
Imran’s arrest warrant was signed by NAB Chairman Lt-Gen Nazir Ahmed and dated May 1, charging him with corruption and corrupt practices under Section 9(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
This development comes after the military denied Imran’s accusations against DG-C Maj Gen Faisal Naseer, whom he accused of involvement in an assassination attempt against him in Wazirabad. Imran reiterated the allegations in a recent video message.
Imran’s arrest follows several unsuccessful attempts, including a police raid at his Lahore residence in Zaman Park, where he managed to evade arrest.
According to Imran, over a hundred cases ranging from sedition to corruption have been filed against him.
Verdict on Legality of Imran’s Arrest Reserved by IHC
Earlier today, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) took notice of Imran Khan’s arrest and issued a directive to the Islamabad police chief, the Interior Ministry Secretary, and the Additional Attorney General to appear before the court within 15 minutes.
The IHC Chief Justice expressed his restraint and threatened to summon the Prime Minister if the Islamabad police chief did not appear before the court, demanding an explanation as to why Imran was arrested and in connection with which case.
Subsequently, the Islamabad Inspector General (IG) appeared in court along with the Interior Secretary and the Additional Attorney General when the hearing resumed.
The IHC Chief Justice expressed his frustration at the delay, saying, “We told you to appear in court within 15 minutes, but you came after 45 minutes.” The Islamabad IG responded that he had learned about Imran’s arrest from the media and that he had been arrested in a case related to corrupt practices. He presented the PTI leader’s arrest warrant to the judge.
Justice Farooq responded, “But as far as I know and from what the court staff said, Imran was not arrested by the NAB. I will issue an appropriate order if the arrest was in violation of the law.” Barrister Gohar Khan, who was present at the time of the arrest, subsequently came forward to testify, saying that he was with Imran when Rangers officials took him away.
The lawyer claimed that the Rangers officials were attempting to arrest the PTI leader before he even entered the biometric room and that they broke windows and used pepper spray. According to Gohar, they hit Imran with a rod and targeted his injured leg, violating judicial independence and fundamental rights.
PTI lawyer Khawaja Haris argued that justice is the right of every citizen and that today’s arrest is an attack on judicial independence.
Haris contended that according to the law, NAB was not authorized to apprehend an individual while an inquiry was ongoing.
Advocate Ali Bukhari, a PTI lawyer, corroborated Haris’ statement by asserting that Imran Khan was in the midst of his biometric registration process, which he witnessed firsthand. Bukhari also recounted how the Rangers demanded that the doors be unlocked, but the police refused. Subsequently, the Rangers broke the windows and entered the room, where they proceeded to subject everyone present to physical abuse.
In contrast, PTI lawyer Faisal Chaudhry advocated for the formation of a full court by the IHC to address the matter. Chaudhry emphasized that both the IHC and their court had been assaulted, and implored the court to uphold its integrity.
During the hearing, Justice Farooq mentioned that the court had demonstrated “restraint” in handling the case and warned against testing his patience.
The Chief Justice of the IHC expressed surprise that the NAB could carry out an arrest in such a manner and questioned if it was not an infringement of judicial independence. He pointed out that evidence of attacks on lawyers, the court, and himself were apparent.
Justice Farooq strongly objected to the arrest happening on the IHC premises.
The additional attorney general responded by questioning whether the parking lot and other areas outside the courtroom should be treated the same. This prompted the lawyers present in the courtroom to chant “shame, shame”.
During this time, IG Nasir claimed that he was unaware of the details of the arrest, but Justice Farooq pointed out that the lawyers had already provided a detailed account of the incident. The police chief offered to investigate the matter further, but the IHC CJ emphasized the importance of upholding the dignity of the court.
He highlighted the damage done to the court’s reputation and expressed concern over the responsibility for the incident. Justice Farooq emphasized that the matter was a larger issue concerning the entire system, and sought answers from the authorities regarding these questions.
The judge summoned the director general of NAB Rawalpindi and the watchdog’s prosecutor general to appear before the court within 30 minutes. When the hearing resumed, NAB officials appeared before the court. The IHC CJ questioned the director-general whether Imran’s arrest warrants were issued by NAB.
The DG confirmed that the warrant was issued on May 1 and that NAB had sought assistance from the Interior Ministry for its execution. The judge asked if anyone from NAB was present during the execution of the warrant, to which the DG replied that the investigating officer had reached Bela Road when Imran Khan was arrested.
Justice Farooq expressed concern over the attack on lawyers and the damage to the property of the court. He emphasized the importance of the respect of the court and questioned whether the way the arrest warrant was executed was legal or not.
PTI lawyer Haris argued that NAB had announced on April 30 that the inquiry against Imran was being turned into an investigation, and that he had asked for a copy of the investigation but had not received it. He presented the case record in court, stating that NAB’s ill-intentions were evident from it.
Justice Farooq then questioned NAB about the issuance of an arrest warrant only after an inquiry was turned into an investigation, to which the PTI lawyer confirmed that an arrest warrant could only be issued if notices had been issued and no response had been submitted.
During the hearing, PTI lawyer Haris submitted copies of Imran Khan’s petitions to the court and stated that Imran had appeared in court earlier that day but was arrested before the biometric test could be conducted. Haris emphasized that the right to approach the courts was a fundamental right of every citizen and that issuing the warrant when he was sitting with three petitions was an illegal act.
Barrister Safdar also addressed the court, claiming that lawyers who came to assist them were beaten up during the ordeal and demanded that Imran be presented before the court. He further argued that NAB could have arrested Imran from his Zaman Park residence or any other location, instead of attacking the court’s dignity.
NAB’s Muzaffar argued that Imran had failed to appear before the bureau despite several notices. However, Justice Farooq insisted on going on merit and addressing the legal questions raised by the PTI lawyers. He further added that the case pertains to the NAB court, and NAB should file it there instead.
The IHC CJ inquired about the NAB investigating officer’s details, and Muzaffar revealed his name as Umar Nadeem. Justice Farooq also asked if the NAB had deployed Rangers to execute Imran’s arrest warrant, and IG Nasir replied in the affirmative, stating that he was also aware of the arrest warrant.
Regarding other PTI leaders, the NAB official said that he was unaware of any such warrants. Justice Farooq asserted that if Imran’s arrest was illegal, he would have to be released, but if it was legal, the proceedings would continue as per the law.
Finally, Justice Farooq reserved the verdict, and an appropriate order would be issued soon.