LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has extended the halt in police operation to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan for another day and also barred Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from holding party rally at Minar-e-Pakistan on Sunday.
On Wednesday, the LHC had ordered police to stop its operation against Imran Khan until Thursday morning (today).
PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry had moved the high court yesterday seeking to stop the police operation in Zaman Park. After an initial hearing, the high court had ordered police to suspend the operation till 10am today — which helped calm the situation at the former prime minister’s house which had turned into a battleground.
Imran Khan had also announced a historic rally on Sunday (March 19) at Minar-e-Pakistan (Greater Iqbal Park) in Lahore to launch the party’s election campaign despite security concerns.
However, the court during proceedings on Thursday stopped the PTI from holding a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan and asked the party to let citizens live their routine lives.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh noted that neither the LHC nor the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had stopped the law-enforcers from executing Imran Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrants. The judge said he does not “find any issue” in the situation, but noted that neither of the parties involved in the case has studied the law.
“All of these issues have arisen because the law was not read,” he said, adding that today, “all of us will read the law together”. He said that both sides have “jammed the system”.
Justice Saleem reprimanded the PTI counsel and said that the issue is of Imran Khan’s warrants and the party keeps knocking on the doors of both IHC and LHC. “You are unaware of where you have to plead. We just have to follow the law in this case.”
“Neither the LHC nor the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has stopped the execution of the arrest warrants,” Justice Saleem remarked during the hearing.
“All of you should sit together and find a solution. If you want to hold a public meeting, plan it 15 days in advance. Let the life of the nation run normally. Your rally will not be held on Sunday,” he ordered.
“Even if someone is getting married, he plans for the event much in advance. Our nation is being disrespected. I did not touch the arrest warrant. You must bring yourself into the system. Everything has got a method. Apply your plans under the policy we provide you. Everyone has rights, and they need to be balanced,” the judge added.
As Fawad entered the courtroom, the judge told him that his party was not following the law. “You people have pushed the nation into suffering.”
At this, the PTI leader told the court that when the party chief has to appear before four courts subsequently, it becomes hard for him to handle the situation. “We are 100% sure about a possible attack on Imran Khan and that is why we had requested his presence at hearings via video link,” Fawad added.
The judge then said that there is a proper procedure for seeking security for a person and stressed that the party should bring “itself inside the system’s ambit”.
The judge then asked the PTI leader to sit down with authorities and sort out the issue. “We are being embarrassed as a nation,” he remarked, asking the party to once again reschedule its rally.
Punjab Advocate General Shan Gul then told the judge that IHC’s order has also been issued. The advocate general said that there is no need for this hearing. At this, Justice Saleem said that he has not touched the arrest warrants. “Neither the Lahore High Court nor the Islamabad High Court stopped police from executing the arrest warrants,” he maintained.
“The decision of the IHC has come. This hearing is no longer required. Only the matter of security can be discussed,” the Punjab advocate general said.
“Are you serious about this case?” Justice Saleem asked from the petitioners’ lawyer.
“We are waiting for the detailed decision of the IHC and the sessions trial court of Islamabad,” the lawyer replied.
“Is all the work to be done by you?” the LHC judge questioned the lawyer.
“You people don’t read the law. That’s why you keep beating about the bush. I don’t think there is any problem in this whole issue. Everything is in the law,” Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh remarked.
“Neither side reads the law. All these problems are due to not reading the law. Today, we will read the law together. The system has been jammed from both sides. The issue is of warrant, [but] sometimes you go to the Lahore High Court, sometimes you go to the Islamabad High Court. You don’t know where to go. You are not following the law. The entire nation is suffering,” the LHC judge commented.
The court then adjourned the hearing till 11am tomorrow.
Security beefed up
The authorities beefed up security around the Zaman Park residence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in Lahore on Thursday morning.
The court had ordered a halt to the operation to arrest Imran Khan in Toshakhana case, restricting police to move back.
The authorities tightened the security around Imran Khan’s house by placing containers on the roads leading to the PTI chief’s residence.
Under new restrictions, no vehicle can go to Imran Khan’s house from Canal Road entry gate.
On the other hand, PTI workers, armed with stones and sting-shots, are standing alert on entry points of Zaman Park.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday extended the interim pre-arrest bail of former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Shabbir Gujjar and others in the case of attacking a police party till March 20.
Shabbir Gujjar and other accused appeared before the court along with their lawyers.
A two-member LHC bench had conducted the hearing.