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Court orders Imran Khan to appear before investigation officer in prohibited funding case

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  • Banking court judge reserves verdict on Khan’s plea for extension in pre-arrest bail.
  • Turns down Khan’s request to be interrogated at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
  • Says investigation officer can hold interrogation wherever and however he wants.

A banking court in Islamabad on Thursday directed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to ensure his presence before the investigation officer (IO) in the prohibited funding case being pursued against his party.

In the bail plea, the PTI chief’s lawyers had urged the court to stop the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from arresting Khan in the case pertaining to financial irregularities in the party’s funding.

Today, the directive was issued as the court announced a reserved verdict on Khan’s plea for an extension in pre-arrest bail.

At the outset of the hearing, Special Prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi requested the court to reject the former premier’s plea, while the petitioner’s lawyer asked the court to give a two-week extension on medical grounds.

Khan’s lawyer also requested an exemption for the PTI chief to appear before the court for today’s hearing.

The prosecutor maintained that Khan has been politically active since the assassination bid on his life during PTI’s long march rally in Wazirabad in November.

“He is running the political affairs but doesn’t appear in the court,” Abbasi said while requesting the court to reject his plea for exemption.

He claimed that Khan neither appeared in the court nor joined the probe, asking the court to tell the investigation officer to visit the PTI chief at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. 

When asked about the reason for Khan’s absence from investigations, his lawyer said that there were many reasons he couldn’t appear before the investigation officer despite “his willingness”.

He said that Khan was injured in an assassination bid and he would appear before IO as soon as the doctors allow him.

At this, prosecutor Abbasi maintained that the investigation officer could not go to Lahore for interrogation.

“Imran Khan appears on TV but not in the courts,” Rizwan said while requesting the court to take back the decision of Khan’s interim bail. 

Judge Rakhshanda Shaheen turned down the request by Khan’s lawyer to interrogate the former premier at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

“The investigation officer can hold investigations wherever and however he wants, the court will not interfere,” the judge remarked.

Meanwhile, the judge asked Khan’s lawyer to assist the court with why shouldn’t it withdraw the interim bail.

She directed Khan to join the probe to ensure his presence before the IO under any circumstances and adjourned the hearing till January 31.

FIA kickstarts investigation in prohibited funding case

FIA kickstarted its countrywide investigation into the utilisation of funds from “prohibited” sources by PTI after an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruling that the party secured illegal donations, in August 2022.

On August 2, 2022, the ECP in a unanimous verdict said it had found that the PTI received prohibited funding.

The commission found that donations were taken from America, Australia, Canada and the UAE.

The case — earlier referred to as a “foreign funding” case — was filed in November 2014 when the party’s founding member Akbar S Babar alleged gross financial irregularities in the party’s funding from both Pakistan and abroad. 

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PTI received unwelcome respite, according to Rana Sanaullah

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In the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) reserved seat dispute, the government would respect the majority ruling of the Supreme Court, according to PMLN senior leader and advisor on political affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan.

He stated that after examining the decision, the government’s legal team would react appropriately. According to Rana Sanaullah, the legal team would determine whether or not to submit a review petition.

“SIC petitions were rejected but PTI was given that relief which was neither asked in the petition nor contest during the proceeding,” asserted Rana Sanaullah in response to the ruling.

He argued that because parties established administrations with a simple majority, the PMLN-led unity movement did not have a two-thirds majority.

According to Rana Sanaullah, PTI should challenge election tribunal rulings, with the government carrying out the rulings.

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The membership of Sher Afzal Marwat has been suspended by PTI.

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According to sources, PTI officials convened with imprisoned party founder Imran Khan on Thursday to make a decision over Marwat.

The party authorities alleged that Sher Afzal Marwat had been consistently breaching party discipline over the past month.

“In the meeting with Imran Khan, it was mutually agreed that no leader holds a superior position within the party, and any other leaders who deviate from the party’s stance will face similar consequences,” they stated.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has recently issued a show-cause notice to Sher Afzal Marwat due to his irresponsible utterances.

The notice, issued by PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, requires Marwat to provide an explanation for his utterances within a three-day period. These statements have been considered harmful to the party’s reputation.

The notification declares that making such utterances goes against the party’s code of conduct and contravenes the explicit directives of the party’s founder, Imran Khan, who has underscored the significance of accountable conduct.

Marwat was cautioned that if they fail to react or offer a satisfactory explanation, it could result in additional disciplinary measures.

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Supporting phone tapping for “national security,” Khawaja Asif

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In the continuous fight against terrorism, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has stated that he is a strong supporter of security agencies’ phone tapping practices.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, particularly party head Omer Ayub, criticized and engaged in contentious arguments following Asif’s statements.

The significance of phone tapping for national security was emphasized by Khawaja Asif in an interview with a foreign media source. “Terrorism is the enemy that we fight. Given the circumstances, I will be in favor of phone tapping,” he said.

Noting that the phone tapping matter is presently being handled through the legal system, he further urged that everyone support the measure. “Phone tapping is necessary for national security,” he asserted.

By highlighting the PTI’s erratic position on the issue, the defense minister also rejected the party’s concerns as hypocritical.

Every action, whether legal and illegal, seemed acceptable to Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Taliban, when he was on good terms with the authorities.” Asif said, “The same thing is hateful to his followers today.”

In order to prevent terrorism and protect national security, Asif emphasized the importance of phone tapping. Under the present conditions, I will be in favor of phone tapping. The fight against terrorism required it, he declared. In these difficult circumstances, he also urged detractors to think about the wider effects of security precautions.

After former prime minister Imran Khan complained about his phone being tapped, Asif hinted that the PTI’s present protests are politically motivated by pointing to earlier instances in which they had a positive relationship with the establishment.

For the purpose of maintaining national security and preventing any criminal activity, the central government granted Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the nation’s premier spy agency, permission to tap phones on July 8. A notification stating that Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act 1996 permits ISI to record phone calls has been issued. Anything that falls under the notification category can be recorded by it.

The notice included a call recording feature in addition to the ability to track messages and calls. Subject to the prime minister’s approval, ISI personnel ranked 18th or higher are granted this authority. It will be feasible to record WhatsApp calls, SMS, and other applications in addition to cell calls, the release states.

Notably, on June 30, Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court said that it is legally unlawful to monitor civilians in any way in the case of the audio leaks involving the son of former chief justice Saqib Nisar and Bushra Bibi. According to his ruling, the prime minister and the cabinet bear both collective and individual responsibility for the widespread surveillance of four million citizens carried out by the federal government through the system.

The prime minister should acquire intelligence agency reports and bring the issue before the cabinet, the court judgment stated. Furthermore, according to the decision, the prime minister must report to the court on the Lawful Management System within six weeks.

“The prime minister will tell whether the surveillance of citizens is going on against the law and constitution,” the court stated.

Along with identifying who is in charge of the surveillance system that is interfering with citizens’ privacy, he should also disclose who installed the Lawful Interception Management System and mass surveillance. By July 5, all telecom firms were ordered by the court to submit their reports about the Lawful Interception Management System.

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