LAHORE – The Lahore High Court has ordered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan till 5 p.m. to appear in a case involving a demonstration outside Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP).
The former prime minister was scheduled to appear before the Lahore High Court (LHC) to hear the hearing of his protective bail request, but his attorneys informed the court that The Mall was congested and that he could only be transported to court if the route was free.
Tight security measures have already been implemented at the high court to avert any unpleasant circumstance, and Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh has halted all other matters for the time being. The former prime minister is seeking official authorization from the court to enter his car on LHC grounds.
Also read: Imran faces arrest ahead of his appearance before the LHC
Judge Sheikh questioned PTI chief’s counsel, Khwaja Tariq Rahim, about Imran Khan’s scheduled attendance at 2 p.m. The lawyer said that Mr Khan was on his way, but that he was delayed owing to security concerns. The judge responded that he was under no obligation to resolve the security problem and that only necessary attorneys should be in court to prevent an overwhelming throng.
Imran Khan did not suspend the bail petition, according to Advocate Rahim.
Judge Sheikh further said that the law applied to everyone equally. Imran Khan, he remarked, should come from the same place that every ordinary person does.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders Hammad Azhar and Farrukh Habib confirmed that Mr Khan will appear in court later that day. In a tweet, Mr Azhar added, “Imran Khan will reach high court by 4pm”.
Imran Khan’s private team has already visited the high court and evaluated security in and around the venue. PTI head Azhar Siddique’s lawyer, as well as party officials Shibli Faraz and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, were in court. Mr Khan will appear in court for the first time since an assassination attempt on him in October of last year.
Earlier in the day, an administrative judge of the LHC denied a plea requesting permission for PTI chairman Imran Khan’s car to enter the grounds due to security concerns.
The judgement on the suit filed by PTI leader Shibli Faraz seeking security clearance for the party chairman was announced by Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh. The plea was made in light of the threats made against the former premier, who was injured in an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year.
On Thursday, a two-member panel led by Judge Baqar Najfi dismissed a similar plea after the PTI president failed to appear in court despite several opportunities. But, a solitary bench gave him another chance to play on Monday.
At the last hearing, Judge Abid Aziz Shaikh also noted a discrepancy between Imran Khan’s signatures on the affidavit and the power of attorney. Although describing the situation as severe, the court said that a contempt notice might be issued to either the petitioner or the attorney.
As Mr Khan’s attorney claimed that the PTI head owned his signatures, Judge Shaikh ordered that the petitioner come in person to record the declaration. The hearing was subsequently postponed to February 20 by the court.
Mr Khan submitted the protected bail plea after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in the federal capital revoked his release in the case brought against him last year for violent protest outside the ECP headquarters.
At a press conference, PTI leader Asad Umar said that there were some security concerns over Imran Khan’s presence in court. He said that Imran was not a regular Pakistani citizen and that an assassination attempt had been undertaken on him. Moreover, he said that Imran Khan was unable to withstand the rigours prescribed by his physicians. He said that it is not an issue of ego.
Shibli Faraz is a Muslim.
Shibli Faraz, a former federal minister, questioned who would be held accountable if Mr Khan was injured [during his journey to the LHC]. “Mr Imran had come before the court 25 times before to being shot at in Wazirabad, but his [recent] absence from the court is due to two factors: his injuries and security concerns,” he continued.