“PTI Chief Allowed to Leave Islamabad Judicial Complex After Marking Attendance Before Decision Reached”
In a recent development, Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal has cancelled the arrest warrants that were issued against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case. The decision was made after Imran Khan marked his attendance outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex, where he was scheduled to be indicted in the case.
The hearing was initially set to take place on Saturday, but due to the turbulence and chaos that erupted between police and PTI workers outside the complex, the proceedings were adjourned until March 30 (Thursday).
The situation was deemed unsuitable by Judge Zafar Iqbal to hold the hearing and appearance, and he urged all those who had gathered there to disperse peacefully.
Prior to this, Judge Zafar Iqbal had allowed Imran Khan to leave after marking his attendance outside the G-11 Judicial Complex amid unrest between police and PTI supporters.
As Imran’s convoy reached the judicial complex ahead of the party chairman’s appearance before a district and sessions court in the Toshakhana case, intense clashes broke out between the two sides.
The Islamabad Police halted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s vehicle barely 100 meters from the gate of the Judicial Complex.
The police accused party workers of blocking the route, while the PTI claimed that law enforcers were restricting Imran’s movement. Due to the ongoing hostilities between the two sides, Imran Khan was unable to appear in front of Judge Zafar Iqbal, despite the end of court hours.
Judge Zafar Iqbal stated that the hearing and appearance cannot take place in the current situation, citing the ongoing hostilities between the Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex.
He advised all those present to disperse peacefully without resorting to any form of violence, such as shelling or pelting stones, after marking Imran Khan’s attendance.
Additionally, he mentioned that the next date for the hearing can only be decided after obtaining the PTI chief’s signatures.
After marking Imran Khan’s attendance, the PTI chief left for Lahore without stepping out of his bullet-proof vehicle at the gate of the Judicial Complex.
Earlier, Imran Khan had filed an application in the court, stating that he was present at the gate outside the complex, and his presence should be recorded at the gate.
The Toshakhana case involving Imran Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, resumed in court today, with his counsel Khawaja Haris informing Judge Zafar Iqbal that Imran was being prevented from entering the premises.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lawyer remarked that Imran “should have been here as the court started at 8:30 am,” but the judge stated that the ousted premier was “facing hardship” and the court should wait for him.
The PTI lawyer, Babar Awan, prepared a new application on behalf of the party chief, stating that he was being denied entry and requesting the court to send its staff to mark his attendance and “initiate contempt of court proceedings against the police.”
After a short recess, Judge Iqbal directed court staff to take a police officer along and present Imran before the court. The judge also allowed PTI representatives to accompany the court staff.
Judge Iqbal then directed a court representative to mark Imran’s attendance outside the court premises and stated that Imran could leave once the attendance was marked. Compliance with the court orders followed with court staff and Babar Awan leaving the courtroom to mark the PTI chief’s attendance.
The hearing had to be held in the G-11 Judicial Complex instead of the F-8 Katcheri due to security concerns raised by the former premier, with Judge Zafar Iqbal presiding over the hearing.
Imran appeared in court for the first time today after repeated summons for seven hearings. A day earlier, the Islamabad High Court suspended the non-bailable arrest warrants issued for the PTI chairman till today, giving him the opportunity to voluntarily appear before the sessions court.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar condemned the police for “preventing Imran from going to court,” claiming that police were standing in the way and starting tear gas shelling instead of allowing Imran to go to court.
Earlier today, Imran Khan’s convoy reportedly faced roadblocks on its way to the Islamabad toll plaza.
In a video message before the incident, the PTI chairman claimed that the current government had plans to arrest him as he headed towards the district and sessions court in Islamabad.
While enrooted to Islamabad, Imran Khan issued a special statement in which he stated that he knows he will be arrested, but he still intends to make his way to court because he believes in the rule of law.
He accused the government of planning to arrest him and claimed that the Zaman Park operation was not carried out to make him appear before the court, but to put him in jail.
He alleged that this is part of the London plan to incarcerate him.
Imran further stated that this is the demand of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, as he wants to prevent Imran from participating in the upcoming elections.
Despite the risk of arrest, Imran reiterated that he believes in the rule of law and will make his way to the court.
“Police terrorism is unacceptable.”
In the midst of the chaos surrounding the court appearance of Imran Khan, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry demanded the immediate opening of the internal roads of Islamabad.
He tweeted that the constitution and law of the country should be respected. Additionally, Chaudhry criticized the capital administration for the “police terrorism” occurring under the guise of administrative arrangements.
Asad Umar, another senior PTI leader, also condemned the capital administration for blocking roads to the court.
The police spokesperson defended their actions by stating that all routes in the city are open and that special security measures have been put in place around the judicial complex.
The police also reported that an emergency has been imposed in the hospitals of Islamabad in response to the current situation. Moreover, the police revealed that Imran’s convoy is going the wrong way on the Islamabad-Srinagar highway, which caused a disruption in the outgoing traffic.
The police requested that Imran’s convoy change direction at the nearest U-turn.
“A written application was filed by Babar Awan, the lawyer of the PTI chairman”
Babar Awan, the lawyer representing PTI chairman, filed a written application in court protesting against the ban imposed on party lawyers, officials and media personnel from entering the judicial complex.
In the application, Awan stated that the police and administration had cordoned off the entire area under the pretext of security.
Despite clear orders from the honourable high court, he added that the situation was serious and alarming. Awan pointed out that there was no legal justification for the ban on lawyers and media in the open court.
He urged the court to take notice of the “poor and unjustifiable policy of the administration” and issue orders allowing important persons, including lawyers and media, to enter the court.
Tight security measures were implemented by the authorities in preparation for the former prime minister’s court appearance, with the judicial complex being surrounded by barricades made of containers, and a complete ban on vehicular traffic entering the vicinity.
The case’s hearing at the judicial complex has prompted the deployment of about 4,000 officers and personnel from the Islamabad Capital Police, FC, and the Punjab Police for security duty, according to reports. Law enforcers are also present on the routes that lead to the judicial complex.
Earlier today, the entrance to the judicial complex was closed to the lawyer of the ousted premier, Babar Awan, and party member Shibli Faraz.
Reports suggest that only a limited number of individuals will be permitted to enter, with three PTI lawyers, five party leaders, and four prosecution lawyers allowed in, while the media will not be granted access to the premises.
On two occasions, the arrest warrant of the former prime minister was issued, firstly on February 28 and then again on March 13.
The day before, on March 17, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) halted Imran’s non-bailable arrest warrants in the Toshakhana criminal proceedings case.
Imran’s application against the arrest warrant issued by a session court was heard by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq. The hearing commenced after Imran’s biometrics were conducted in Lahore.
IHC instructed the ousted prime minister to appear in court within the designated hours the following day, warning that failure to do so would result in contempt of court proceedings being initiated.
Earlier during the proceedings, the judge had offered Imran a deal: halt the Islamabad police’s attempts to arrest him at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore if he surrendered before the court.
The offer arose as clashes broke out between the Islamabad police and PTI activists at Imran’s residence, which continued for two days until other law enforcement agencies intervened, leading to a peaceful resolution of the situation.