ISLAMABAD, March 14 (PTI): A court here on Tuesday suspended till March 16 a non-bailable arrest warrant issued against former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan for threatening a woman magistrate while addressing a public gathering here last year.
Anon-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI) chief Khan on Monday for using threatening language against Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and the Islamabad police officials, Dawn news reported. Khan’s counsel in Monday’s hearing said the 70-yearold PTI leader was ready to attend the court proceedings through a video link, but Senior Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim, rejecting his plea, instructed the police to produce the cricketer-turned-politician in court by March 29.
The PTI leader subsequently challenged the warrants in the district court, where Additional Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gilani in the order said Khan’s counsel contended that “due to security threat to the life of petitioner, the petitioner could not appear before the learned trial court”. During the hearing, a lawyer for Khan said it was notsafe for the former prime minister to come to Islamabad amid security threats against him, adding that they had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) asking permission to appear virtually before the courts.
The judge said that the arguments raised by Khan’s petition needed consideration. “Now to come up for arguments on 16.03.2023. In the meanwhile, operation of the impugned order is hereby suspended till the next date,” the order added. Lawyers Naeem Panjotha and Intizar Panjotha appeared in court in Tuesday’s hearing, where Panjotha argued that all the sections invoked against the PTI chief were bailable to which the judge asked if non-bailable arrest warrants had been issued for Khan earlier as well.
Before this, arrest warrants have not been issued in the case related to threatening the woman judge, the lawyer replied. For his part, the government’slawyer informed the court that [arrest] warrantsfor Khan were also issued in the Toshakhana case. A sessions court had directed the police on Monday to arrest the PTI chief in the case and present him in court by March 18. Meanwhile, the judge remarked that the ex-premier was leading an election rally in Lahore to which his lawyer stated that the PTI chairman had appeared in the judicial complex last month.
Khan was initially booked under varioussections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Anti-TerrorismAct (ATA). Besides, Islamabad High Court (IHC) also initiated contempt of court proceedings against him. However, the IHC later removed the terrorism charges and also pardoned Khan following an apology in the contempt case by the former premier. However, a similar case, filed after the registration of a first information report (FIR) against him for threatening the judge, is pending before the sessions court.
Meanwhile, a team of Islamabad Police on Monday flew to Lahore to arrest Khan for threatening the woman judge after the district and sessions court issued his non-bailable arrest warrant for failing to attend the hearing in that case. Khan, who is recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has skipped indictment hearings in these cases.
The PTI chief is in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit. Khan has heavily criticised the state institutions after a botched attempt by police to arrest him from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore earlier this month.
According to Khan, he was facing at least 80 different casesin various courts across Pakistan. Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in hisleadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.