- Accountability court directs NAB to present PTI chief on May 17.
- Khan tells judge that NAB officials didn’t show him warrants.
- Hearing was held at Islamabad Police Lines.
ISLAMABAD: The legal woes of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan multiplied on Wednesday when an accountability court sent him on an eight-day physical remand to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The former prime minister was presented before Judge Mohammad Bashir in the land corruption case at Islamabad Police Lines, which was given the status of a court as a “one-time dispensation” late on Tuesday night.
Judge Bashir, while announcing the verdict reserved earlier, directed officials to present Khan in court on May 17.
Khan was arrested on Tuesday by Rangers — becoming the seventh former prime minister to be arrested in Pakistan — on the orders of the NAB, an autonomous anti-graft agency, in relation to the corruption case. He was then moved to its office in the garrison town of Rawalpindi for questioning.
Later, announcing the reserved verdict on Khan’s arrest, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) said that the arrest was legal; therefore, Khan’s legal team challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court; however, the plea was turned down by the apex court citing various reasons.
The cricketer-turned-politician faces a slew of court cases and was also indicted today in Toshakhana case — which involved allegations that he did not properly disclose earnings from the sale of state gifts from his time in office.
Al-Qadir Trust case hearing
At the outset of the hearing, the NAB sought a 14-day physical remand — the maximum allowed in the law — but the PTI lawyers opposed the request.
Sources told Geo News that Khan’s legal team was earlier denied permission to meet the party chief ahead of the hearing; however, once the hearing began Khan held discussions — during a hearing break — with lawyers Khawaja Haris, Faisal Chaudhry, Ali Gohar, and Ali Bukhari.
Several officials of the anti-graft watchdog including Special Prosecutor Rafay Maqsood, Deputy Prosecutor Muzaffar Abbasi, Prosecutor Sardar Zulqarnain and investigation officer Mian Umar Nadeem were present in the court.
The NAB prosecutor informed the additional sessions judge Mohammad Bashir that Khan was shown warrants at the time of arrest; however, the PTI chief denied the claims saying that he saw the arrest warrants after reaching the NAB office.
Abbasi assured the judge that all necessary documents will be provided to the PTI chief’s lawyers. The judge, taking a break, directed the legal team to hold discussions with Khan as the former complained that the authorities did not allow them to meet their client before the hearing.
When the hearing resumed after the break, Khawaja Haris argued about the legality of Khan’s arrest.
Sharing the details of the case, Abbasi said that the money was seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency and sent it back to the Government of Pakistan.
After the completion of the lawyer Haris’s argument, Khan complained that which record is the anti-graft watch dog seeking that he is not sharing with the officials.
“The NAB is saying they want to compile the records,” Khan said, questioning when did he deny access to any of the records.
The former prime minister added that all transactions were made after the approval of the cabinet. Recalling yesterday’s events, Khan urged the judges to summon his team of doctors, especially Dr Faisal.
After the defence and plaintiffs concluded their arguments, Judge Mohammad Bashir reserved the verdict which was announced after almost two hours.
Hearings held at a ‘special location’
It should be noted that Khan was not brought to a regular court in the federal capital and his scheduled hearing took place at the location where he was under custody.
The Islamabad chief commissioner on Tuesday said that Khan, instead of being taken to F-8 Court Complex and Judicial Complex G 11/4, will be presented at New Police Guest House, Police Lines — which has been given one-time status of the court for this particular hearing, a notification issued by the Government of Pakistan read.
The decision to present Khan at a special court instead of a NAB court was taken in view of security threats to his life. According to sources, the PTI chief was shifted to an unknown place late at night from NAB’s office.
“[…] the Provincial Government, as a one-time dispensation, is pleased to declare New Police Guest House, Police Lines Headquarters H 11/1, Islamabad, the venue for hearing of case titled ‘District Election Commissioner Vs Imran Khan Niazi’ and for the appearance of Mr Imran Khan Niazi before Honorable Judge Accountability Court – I, Islamabad on 10th May 2023, instead of F-8 Court Complex, Islamabad and Judicial Complex G 11/4, Islamabad,” notification issued by the provincial government, ICT read.
It should be noted that entry access to special court was only granted to people whose name was added to the court list.
Imran Khan declared medically ‘fit’
Meanwhile, the sources said that a medical report submitted to the NAB showed that Khan was declared fit and he did not complain about any pain to the doctors examining him.
A day earlier, immediately after being arrested Khan was taken for a medical checkup. A medical board, comprising seven doctors from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital and two doctors from the Polyclinic, examined Khan and conducted several tests.
The report submitted by the board, headed by Dr Rizwan Taj, showed that Khan’s blood pressure, sugar level, and heartbeat were normal after repeated tests.
Asad Umar arrested from IHC premises
Ahead of Khan’s hearing, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar was arrested from the IHC premises by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Islamabad police.
Umar was arrested from the IHC Bar Association’s office where they had been preparing a plea to file in the IHC to seek a meeting with the party chairman.
The PTI lawyers tried to stop the police from arresting Asad Umar but their efforts went in vain.
Meanwhile, the police also tried to arrest the party’s vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi; however, the former foreign minister was saved by fellow leaders and the legal team.
Legal team, leaders denied permission to meet Khan
Earlier in the day, a senior member of the party’s legal team claimed that they were denied permission to meet the former premier.
“We were stopped from meeting our client,” Babar Awan told Geo News. He added that nobody was being allowed to meet the PTI chief, terming the move against the Constitution.
It should be be noted that PTI leaders Qureshi, Umar, Awan and others were denied permission to attend the hearing or meet Khan.
Qureshi, taking to his Twitter handle, confirmed that the former Punjab governor Omer Cheema was also arrested.
“Following Chairman Imran Khan, PTI President Sindh Ali Zaidi and former Governor Punjab Omer Cheema have also been picked up, while our protesters were fired upon indiscriminately, killed, with women, children and the aged shelled and water cannoned with chemical water. Today, my offices in Multan were raided and my staff, beaten up,” Qureshi wrote.
He asserted that they will “never succumb to these dark forces”, and will always fight for Jinnah’s Pakistan.
Reiterating their call for protests, he wrote: “We continue to call @PTIofficial family workers, supporters, and the people of Pakistan onto the streets for peaceful protest against this unconstitutional behaviour. No one, absolutely no one, should be allowed to ride roughshod over the law.”
Protests erupt across Pakistan
Khan’s arrest from the IHC premises sparked violent clashes across the country during which hundreds of party workers were detained including former federal minister Ali Zaidi.
The party supporters in several cities took to the streets and clashed with security forces, who fired tear gas and tried to beat them back.
Videos circulated on social media — which was also down in several parts of the country — showed some supporters wielding sticks and face masks entering the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi and shouting angry slogans.
Not only across Pakistan, Khan’s supporters took to the street in several parts of the world.
DIG Operations Lahore Ali Nasir Rizvi in his efforts to clear the Corps Commandor House was hit by PTI stone pelters last night, Geo News reported.
He has been seriously wounded — main facial bone and nasal bone has been fractured; eye punctured, retinal damage suspected. Reports suggest that the DIG might lose vision.
What is Al-Qadir Trust case?
The former prime minister, along with his wife Bushra Bibi and other PTI leaders, is facing a NAB inquiry related to a settlement between the PTI government and a property tycoon, which reportedly caused a loss of 190 million pounds to the national exchequer.
As per the charges, Khan and other accused allegedly adjusted Rs50 billion — 190 million pounds at the time — sent by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to the government.
They are also accused of getting undue benefit in the form of over 458 kanals of land at Mouza Bakrala, Sohawa, to establish Al Qadir University.
Imran Khan surpasses political rivals in popularity survey: Miftah
- Miftah, Abbasi, Khokhar testing waters for launch of a political party.
- Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two.
- There is space for launching a new political party, they believe.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismail has said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had surpassed all political leaders in popularity in a recent opinion poll, The News reported on Wednesday.
Miftah along with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Mustafa Khokhar, who had earlier come up with the idea of seminars on “Reimagining Pakistan”, is also presently testing waters for the launch of a political party.
Miftah told The News no decision has been taken as yet, but presently they are seriously thinking on the issue.
He disclosed that they had also done a public opinion survey in July this year, which showed Imran way ahead of all in popularity.
What Abbasi said about his political future in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and about the need for a new political party is part of the trio’s strategy to test the waters before reaching a final decision.
Abbasi, Miftah, and Mustafa are presently discussing the launch of a political party with different people besides encouraging discussion on the issue in the media and social media to assess whether it is a doable option.
Among the three, Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two who are not fully clear as yet whether they should do it or not.
All three, according to Miftah, agree there is space for launching a new political party in the present political situation. The question, he said, remains whether they have the capacity to attract people to join a new political party.
Through a leading entity, conducting public opinion polls, Miftah said they have also got a survey done to assess the popularity of different political parties and leaders. Their reading of the survey report made them reach the conclusion of a need for a new political party.
The three believe a significant number of voters, who are presently inclined towards Imran Khan and PTI for their rejection of PML-N, can be attracted by a new political party because neither the staunch supporters of Imran Khan nor of Nawaz would vote for any other political party.
In view of the post-May 9 difficult situations faced by Imran Khan and his party, the PTI, it is believed the new political party may attract significant voters (not the staunch supporters) of the PTI, who would never vote for PMLN or other political party in Punjab.
Among the three, Khokhar, left the PPP after the party’s leadership objected to his certain statements criticising powerful quarters. Miftah got the cold shoulder from the PML-N top leadership for publicly defending his economic solutions, which are different from that of Ishaq Dar’s.
Miftah also criticised Dar’s policies as finance minister and argued that he too was criticised as finance minister by Dar. However, his criticism of Dar’s policies has made him an alien to Sharifs.
Abbasi has started distancing himself from the PML-N top leadership for the last several months. The PML-N top leadership was keen not to let Abbasi drift from them, but the latter sounded dissatisfied with the politics of all the three leading political parties including PML-N.
Abbasi also did not show his keenness in the PML-N ticket for the next elections, while he had already declined to continue as senior vice-president of the party after Maryam Nawaz was announced as senior vice-president and chief organiser of PML-N.
On the direction of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam had visited Abbasi at the latter’s residence in Islamabad to convince him not to leave the office of senior vice-president of PMLN. Shahid had politely declined. Now, he appears to be quitting the PML-N anytime.
What will happen when Nawaz Sharif lands in Pakistan?
- Nawaz Sharif to attend rally on Oct 21, appear before court the next day.
- “Consultations being held on seeking protective bail from another court.”
- Dastagir adds that Nawaz can get nation out of difficulties even today.
LAHORE: The legal minds of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are holding consultations on challenges party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif faces upon his return to the country, it emerged on Tuesday.
Speaking to Geo News, former federal minister Khurram Dastagir said that Nawaz will go to attend a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan after landing at the Lahore airport on October 21 and will appear before a court the next day.
However, he added, the party is holding discussions on legal matters for the intervening period between his arrival and appearance before the respective court and consultations are being held on seeking protective bail from another court [to avoid arrest].
The former prime minister has been in London since November 2019 after he left the country for medical treatment. He was serving a jail term in corruption cases when the Lahore High Court (LHC) allowed him to seek treatment from abroad.
On Monday, Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti created a stir when he said that the PML-N supremo would be arrested upon return but backtracked his remarks following a strong response from the party.
The PML-N is preparing for a grand reception for Nawaz and plans to hold a massive rally of 1 million people in their stronghold — Lahore.
Dastagir, while responding to a question, said that the former premier had gone abroad on the permission granted to him by two courts and would enter with their approval.
“An appeal is pending before a court and Nawaz Sharif will pursue it upon return,” he said.
The former minister added that people should understand that those responsible for the corruption are those who have been doing political engineering since 2014.
“The situation was bad in 2013 but Nawaz Sharif brought the country out of the worst situation and even today, he can get the nation out of these difficulties.”
To a question, Dastagir said the 15-party coalition is responsible for the successes and failures of the 16-month government.
“PML-N’s 16-month performance is a story of pulling the country out of crises,” he added.
When asked about the reports of the formation of a new political party, he responded, “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should have told that there is peace in Karachi today and credit goes to the PML-N.”
Referring to the spike in militancy in the country, the PML-N leader said the terrorism that is increasing today is because of Imran Khan and Arif Alvi who offered amnesty to the Taliban in 2021.
About a rumoured “secret” meeting of Shehbaz Sharif earlier this month, he said, “I do not know about the meeting in Gujranwala, I cannot deny or confirm it.”
Senate committee recommends ECP hold polls within 90 days
- Committee recommends ECP announce polls schedule at earliest.
- ECP official says preliminary delimitations will be published on Sep 27.
- About 60 days are required for filing and disposal of representations, ECP.
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections within 90 days by reducing the time for filing representations for delimitation from 30 to seven days, The News reported.
In a meeting presided over by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Taj Haider, the committee also drew the electoral body’s attention towards its constitutional obligation of holding polls in the context of the National Assembly’s dissolution.
The Senate panel recommended that the commission announce the schedule of the election at the earliest to ensure clarity on the uncertainty around conducting elections.
Briefing the committee on the polls-related matters, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan said the preliminary delimitations will be published on September 27.
However, he explained a period of approximately 60 days will be required for filing and disposal of representations.
He told the committee that some 91,809 polling stations were to be established out of which 49,919 had been designated as sensitive or highly sensitive.
He pointed out that out of the 49,919 polling stations, 17,411 had been categorised as highly sensitive and another 32,508 as sensitive while 41,809 (around 45%) were designated as normal.
He contended that the general election will encompass 266 National Assembly constituencies and 593 provincial assemblies’ constituencies. Moreover, he noted around 1 million polling staff will be required for the upcoming general election.
The committee inquired about the methods for the consolidation of results. The secretary of ECP said electronic devices having ECP-developed software will be used to send snapshots of Form-45 to returning officers and software was also equipped to keep track of time and place of snapshots in order to ensure the legitimacy of elections.
Regarding the use of funds for development schemes, Senator Haider emphasised that funds should be allocated to the approved schemes. The secretary ECP explained that there was no ban on development schemes approved prior to August 15.
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