20 policemen including SSP injured as PTI workers clash with police at Judicial Complex n Police picket set on fire, 3 police mobiles, 25 motorcycles badly damaged n ‘Protesters threw petrol bombs, fired tear gas shells at police’ n Toshakhana case hearing adjourned till March 30 n Judge seeks arguments, indictment postponed.
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - After a high drama at the Federal Judicial Complex on Saturday, Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal cancelled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's non-bailable arrest warrants in the Toshakhana case.
As clashes erupted between police and supporters of former prime minister outside the Judicial Complex the judge allowed Imran Khan to leave after marking his attendance. The judge adjourned the hearing till March 30 and told the parties in the case that arguments will take place during the next hearing and also ordered Imran Khan to ensure his presence.
Imran Khan’s court appearance came days after a dramatic standoff at his house in Lahore, where police sought to arrest him after the former prime minister failed to appear in court, leading to clashes between police and Khan’s supporters.
Islamabad Chief Commissionner Noorul Amin Mengal shifted the hearing of Imran’s case from F-8 Court Complex to the Judicial Complex in G-11 as a ‘one-time dispensation’ after PTI expressed serious security concerns. On early Saturday, the Islamabad’s Judicial Complex area was put on high security to ensure law and order and avoid any untoward situation.
According to reporters who were present inside the courtroom, they faced difficulties due to the effects of the teargas used by the police and the windows were pelted by stones as well.
PTI workers on Saturday clashed with police and caused damage to public property besides setting ablaze a police post when Imran Khan reached Islamabad from Lahore to appear in a court in the Toshakhana case. Before the arrival of PTI Chairman Imran Khan at Islamabad’s Judicial Complex, heavy police contingents were deployed to ensure law and order and avoid any untoward situations. However, the PTI workers pelted stones at law enforcers and authorities inside and outside the premises of the Islamabad Judicial Complex.
The workers brought stones in their vehicles and even fired teargas on police personnel which was countered by the law enforcers. PTI workers broke the security barrier of the complex for the second time in a row. Despite requests to the PTI chief to enter the judicial complex premises, Imran Khan created a commotion by sitting in his car. A police post was set ablaze and officials were attacked resulting in injuries to policemen, the police source said. PTI workers also heavily damaged three police mobiles and targeted law enforcers through slingshots, which forced police to fire teargas. The personnel of Frontier Constabulary also stepped in to control the situation.
Meanwhile, Islamabad Police issued traffic advisory earlier and alerted citizens of possible roadblocks and detours. Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan said the best possible security measures were taken at the Judicial Complex ahead of the appearance of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case. He said that roads were closed at a limited scale so commuters could not face the difficulty. He said special directives were issued to personnel to ensure security as enemies could exploit such a situation. A total of 4,000 personnel had been deployed to ensure security during the appearance of the PTI chief.
‘PETROL BOMBS, STONE PELTING AND TEAR GAS SHELLING’
As many as 20 policemen including Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Islamabad Malik Jameel Zafar were injured in clashes with PTI workers here on Saturday.
According to police spokesperson, these police personnel were injured due to stone pelting by PTI protesters and violent commotion by them outside the judicial complex. The injured cops were shifted to hospitals for treatment.
He said that more than 25 motorcycles and vehicles were burnt by the angry protesters while a vehicle of the disposal squad of the police was also vandalized.
The angry protesters also set fire to the police post and trees. Protesters attacked the police with petrol bombs and fired tear gas shells at the police.
Demonstrators constantly attacked police personnel from different sides. He said that cases would be registered and legal action to be initiated against them. Islamabad police have also issued video evidence and pictures in which PTI workers could be seen damaging vehicles and motorbikes.
‘TRYING MY BEST TO ENTER’
In an audio message shared by his team later on Saturday, Khan said he was not allowed to enter the court. “I’ve been outside the court for 15 minutes,” Khan said. “I’m trying my best to enter, but the police have fired tear gas, placed obstacles and containers. It seems they don’t want me to enter the court.”
The corruption case against Khan has been brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The electoral watchdog had accused him of not declaring gifts received during his time as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 or profits made from selling them. Khan has denied the charges and called them politically motivated. The former prime minister has expressed concerns that the authorities were planning to arrest him, a move that he said is aimed at preventing him from contesting elections this year. Meanwhile, three people were injured as three vehicles traveling with PTI chief Imran Khan’s convoy to Islamabad met an accident on Motorway on Saturday.
According to a private media report, the accident occurred due to over speeding at Kallar Kahar when the driver of a car lost control, hit other vehicles and turned turtle. As a result, at least three people were injured. The car that turned turtle belonged to PTI MNA Shaukat Ali Bhatti from Hafizabad, who was accompanied by other PTI workers. MNA Shaukat Ali remained safe in the accident.
The lower court of Islamabad on Saturday cancelled the non-bailable arrest warrants against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and also postponed his indictment till March 30 in Toshakhana criminal case. Moreover, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal instructed the lawyers to give arguments on the maintainability of the case in next hearing.
The judge made it clear that Imran Khan had to appear on the next hearing as well.
To this, the defence lawyer Khwaja Haris said that they would file an exemption plea from the appearance on the next hearing. The judge said that the court would view the situation on the said date regarding the exemption request.
Moreover, the PTI chairman left for Lahore without going inside the courtroom and marking his attendance.
As the hearing began, Imran Khan’s lawyer Dr. Baber Awan submitted an exemption plea from the appearance of the PTI chairman.
He said that Imran Khan had reached the premises of the judicial complex. The judge observed that he hoped that the next hearing would be held in F-8 Kachehri Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the PTI chairman had submitted the surety bonds to the court. In addition, Imran’s lawyer submitted an application to the court and prayed to the judge to mark his attendance as he had reached outside the judicial complex.
The court accepted the request and sent its staff member to Imran Khan’s car for taking his attendance signature due to the law and order situation outside the judicial complex.
The court’s staff member who went to take the signature of Imran Khan was tortured by the miscreants. Later, the court inquired about the file having the attendance signature of Imran Khan to this SP Samiullah expressed no knowledge. Khwaja Haris said the loss of the said judicial file was a serious matter.
The court, however, postponed the indictment of Imran Khan till March 30, while cancelling his non-bailable arrest warrants.
It may be mentioned here that as the PTI chairman reached the Judicial complex, hundreds of miscreants tried to enter the building forcibly. On stopping by the police, the mob attacked the police and vandalized the public property.
PEMRA BANS COVERAGE OF PTI’S RALLY
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has “prohibited live/recorded coverage of any kind of rally, public gathering, procession by any party, organization and individual” for Saturday (March 18). The ban has also been imposed on coverage of the rally or procession by any political party from the Judicial Complex, Islamabad, said a notification of PEMRA shared with the media.
According to the notification, the “Competent Authority” imposed the ban while “exercising powers vested under Section 27(a) of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007.”
In case of non-compliance, PEMRA said “license shall be suspended under Section 30 (3) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007, without any show cause notice in the public interest along with other enabling provisions of law.”
The action to this effect was taken as the Law Enforcement Agency of Islamabad communicated its concern to PEMRA regarding airing of “live footages / images of violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies” by satellite TV channels. It was noted that live telecast of such footages on different satellite TV channels created chaos and panic among the viewers and Police.
“Airing of such content is in violation of judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan passed in Suo Moto Case No. 28 of 2018 reported as PLD 2019 Supreme Court1, Section 20 of PEMRA Ordinance, 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007, Rule 15(1) of PEMRA Rules, 2009, Regulation 18 of PEMRA (Television Broadcast Station Operations) Regulations 2012, Clause 4 (10), 5, 17 & 24 of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct 2015 read with Section 27 of PEMRA Ordinance, 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007,” read the notification.
Meanwhile, Lahore Police Saturday launched an operation at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s residence, Zaman Park, leaving several policemen and PTI activists injured during the clash.
According to police and eyewitness, more than 1,000 security personnel took part in the grand operation being conducted to remove camps set up outside Imran Khan’s residence using cranes. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists confronted the police as it removed impediments leading to Imran’s residence. The activists pelted stones at the security personnel and beat them up with batons, leaving at least three policemen injured who were shifted to Services Hospital.
The police retaliated with a baton charge and managed to break through the gate of Zaman Park and gain entry into the premises. According to reports, several PTI workers have been arrested during the operation. Meanwhile, the Lahore administration has also beefed up security on Mall Road to prevent the assembly of PTI workers following the operation. The main artery of the city has been closed to traffic, owing to which commuters have faced extreme difficulties.
At least four prisoner vans were stationed on Mall Road, with heavy contingents of Anti-Riot Force deployed to handle the untoward situation.
‘A LEGAL OBLIGATION’
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Dr Usman Anwar said on Saturday that so far 61 activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had been arrested for attacking the police during an action at Zaman Park.
Addressing a press conference along with Caretaker Punjab Minister for Information Amir Mir here, he said the police took action in Zaman Park after getting search warrants, adding that the court had cleared that it was a legal obligation of the police to carry out the investigation process on merit. IGP Anwar put on display the alleged petrol bombs and said, “These petrol bombs were recovered from there (Zaman Park), and there is also ammunition other than this.” He also said police had finished the search and cleanup operation in Zaman Park and took into custody AK-47 assault rifles and a large number of bullets from Imran Khan’s mansion in Lahore’s posh neighbourhood.