An Islamabad court on Tuesday suspended till March 16 a non-bailable arrest warrant against former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan for threatening a woman magistrate while addressing a public gathering here last year.
The Islamabad district and sessions court on Monday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Khan for using threatening language against Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and the Islamabad police officials.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief subsequently challenged Monday’s order and Additional Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gilani after hearing arguments suspended the arrest warrants till March 16 when the next hearing has been scheduled.
Khan’s counsel contended that “due to security threat to the life of petitioner, the petitioner could not appear before the learned trial court”.
Khan, the 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician, who has been recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has skipped indictment hearings in these cases.
“Now to come up for arguments on March 16. In the meanwhile, operation of the impugned order is hereby suspended till the next date,” the court maintained.
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.
The court then directed Khan’s counsel to attach the documents submitted along with the petition.
“I have been reading these [documents] for the past 15 minutes but I can’t understand what they say,” Judge Gilani said.
At one point during the hearing, Panjotha contended that the PTI chief was the ex-prime minister and it was the government’s responsibility to provide him adequate security. “But instead, they have withdrawn his security.” Here, the judge asked if PTI had a letter that proved that Khan’s security had been withdrawn.
“I can provide it to you by tomorrow,” the lawyer replied.
For his part, the government’s lawyer revealed that [arrest] warrants for 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.
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.
Subsequently, Gilani asked Khan’s counsel to submit security documents in court and suspended the arrest warrants till March 16. He also issued notices to the respondents in the case in which the PTI chairman had on August 20 condemned the police as well as the judiciary over the alleged custodial torture of Shahbaz Gill and announced that his party would file cases against Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, the DIG, and Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry. Khan was initially booked under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (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.
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 cases in various courts across Pakistan.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.