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Govt- PTI at odds over ‘mysterious’ death of Ali Bilal

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The country on Wednesday was left shocked after horrific images of the body of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) worker Ali Bilal — nicknamed Zille Shah — in Lahore began circulating on social media, not long after the PTI’s rally to launch its election campaign was called off

Soon “Zille Shah”, “Ali Bilal” and “Black Vigo” began to trend on Twitter and other social media platforms. 

Before the watching eyes of the horrified country, more and more details of Bilal’s death began to surface, including closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of a private 4X4 vehicle, which can be seen dropping Bilal at a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to the post-mortem report, the victim had 26 marks of torture on his body.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan then shared a video of Bilal being taken away in a police van claiming that he was killed in police custody.

“This video clearly shows that Ali Bilal, also affectionately called Zille Shah, was alive when taken to [the] police station. So he was killed while in police custody — such is the murderous bent of the present regime & Punjab police,” the former prime minister tweeted.

However, the screengrabs of the CTV footage reveal that Bilal was brought to the hospital in a private 4X4 vehicle by people who were dressed in civilian clothing and not police uniforms.

The footage also reveals the faces of those who brought Bilal to the hospital.

However, the police seem no closer to finding the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

Instead, the Lahore police — in a statement Thursday — said that they have formed a committee comprising two police officers to probe Bilal’s death.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Elite Force Sadiq Ali and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Imran Kashore have been named in the committee, the police said.

The inquiry committee will note down the statements of the witnesses and the committee will submit its report to the inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab in three days, added the law enforcement agency.

‘Custodial torture’

While the committee conducts its probe, Twitter is rife with contrary speculations on the matter. Proponents of PTI categorically claimed that the party worker was brutalised by police.

Taking to his Twitter handle, the PTI chief wrote: “Ali Bilal unarmed & our dedicated & passionate PTI worker murdered by Punjab police. Shameful, this brutality on unarmed PTI workers who were coming to attend election rally. Pakistan is in the grip of murderous criminals. We will file cases against IG, CCPO & others for murder.”

The official Twitter handle of the party also shared pictures of Bilal’s post-mortem report, stating: “Post Mortem report of Shaheed Ali Bilal shows use of blunt force & brutal torture causing 26 injuries”

Former minister of Human Rights of Pakistan and PTI senior leader Shireen Mazari took to the microblogging platform and alleged that Bilal’s demise was a result of “custodial torture”.

“Custodial torture against PTI ldrship [leadership] & workers has reached new depths of barbarism with the killing in custody of Ali Bilal. Question is why a powerful psycopath with his henchmen overseeing all this is being allowed to continue making [a] mockery of our Constitution & Rule of Law?”

‘A mystery’

However, the government maintains that the matter is being looked into. Speaking at Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb khanzada Kay Sath, interim Information Minister Amir Mir said yesterday: “The circumstances around the death of the PTI worker Ali Bilal alias Zille Shah have yet to be determined.”

He further said that the investigation into the matter had been going on since Wednesday night and the Punjab IG had formulated a two-member committee to look into the matter.

“The committee’s findings will be revealed in three days,” he said, adding, “This is because the preliminary investigations have found CCTV footage from the hospital in Lahore where this person was brought.”

When Bilal was taken to the hospital on a stretcher, doctors pronounced him dead and immediately afterwards, the person who brought him in disappeared, Mir added.

“We are trying the CCTV footage to find the owner of the vehicle.”

In response to a question, Mir said: “If you believe social media, we [Punjab interim government] killed him, but it must be asked what would we stand to gain from this death? This dead body is simply an attempt to stigmatise Punjab Police.”

He further said that when the body was brought to the hospital, the PTI rally had been over for several hours.

“This matter is a mystery to us,” the interim minister said.

Mir said that the preliminary post-mortem revealed two injuries — on the head and in the abdomen.

“Apparently, by circumstantial evidence, he was killed in a car accident. The question is: who was this person?”

We are still trying to figure out exactly which clash resulted in Bilal’s death, which was certainly not outside Zaman park.

“Had he been injured outside Zaman Park, he would have been taken to the hospital immediately.”

Asserting that should any police personnel be found involved in the matter, the perpetrator would be punished “according to law,” the interim information minister said: “We will find out who was behind this and where the body came from.”

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Parliament’s joint session has been rescheduled for April 18.

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Following the general elections on February 8, the legislative year will begin on Thursday with President Asif Ali Zardari addressing the first session of both houses of parliament.

Articles 54 (1) and 56 (3) of the Constitution were invoked by President Zardari to call the meeting. According to Article 56(3), he will speak to the combined session, which starts at 4 p.m.

The combined session, which was originally set for April 16, has been moved to April 18. For this reason, the April 16 joint parliamentary session notification is revoked.

Note that both the upper and lower houses have had their members elected in accordance with the constitution, and that this will be the nation’s first joint session after the new legislative year has begun.

Former President Arif Alvi was still in office after the elections that took place on February 8, but he was unable to call a joint session because the Senate elections had not yet taken place.

The combined session was summoned by President Zardari a few weeks after he took the oath of office and after the Senate elections went well.

Some months after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government had taken power in the center, Alvi had already called a joint session of parliament on October 6, 2022.

On the other hand, the session was called by the then-president to commemorate the start of the 2022 National Assembly’s final full year.

Amidst the nation’s increasing political instability, the former president emphasized the need for dialogue and urged to end polarization in his speech to the parliament, which was marred by an unexpected boycott by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F).

“Stubbornness doesn’t mean that a person is a Polarized person.”

In the end, the number of parliamentarians in attendance during the former president’s speech dropped down to 12 from the initial 15 people.

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In instances from May 9, the ATC prevented police from detaining Fawad Chaudhry.

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The ATC judge issued the directives after allowing Fawad Chaudhry temporary release until April 20 in four cases involving the violence on May 9.

Additionally, the police were instructed by the court to bring the case file against Chaudhry at the following hearing.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Fawad Chaudhry expressed his optimism for a bright future after spending four stints behind bars.

Among the numerous issues Chaudhry is dealing with are allegations of corruption.

The former PTI leader was released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on April 6.

On April 1, Fawad Chaudhry was granted bail by a division bench of the Islamabad High Court, which was composed of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri. The case included land in Jhelum and was brought before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Qasir Imam, Fawad’s attorney, had previously told the court that his client was accused of accepting a Rs. 5 million bribe from a civilian.

He added that he had never seen the complainant whose complaint led to the filing of a first information report (FIR) against his client. The accusation is that the complainant bribed Fawad and his client offered him a job.

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Pakistan

The SHC is contesting Aseefa Bhutto’s election to the Nawabshah NA seat.

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Mustafa Rind of the PTI asserted in a high court suit that his nomination papers were turned down following his kidnapping.

He begged that the announcement of Aseefa Bhutto’s uncontested election be deemed invalid, and he added that a by-election to fill the National Assembly’s open seats will take place on April 21.

On March 29, the Pakistani Election Commission announced that Aseefa Bhutto had emerged victorious as the MNA from NA-207, following the withdrawal of nomination papers from the remaining three candidates.

Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), which became vacant after her father Asif Ali Zardari was elected as Pakistan’s 14th President, was held by Aseefa Bhutto in the National Assembly.

In the initial round of nomination papers for the by-election, 11 candidates were confirmed by the Returning Officer. Only four nominees’ papers, including Aseefa Zardari, were accepted after careful examination, nevertheless.

In an effort to garner support for her brother Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Aseefa led a number of rallies during the PPP’s strong involvement in the election campaign leading up to the general elections on February 8. At a PPP gathering in Multan on November 30, 2020, she made her political debut.

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