A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Saturday granted pre-arrest bail to ousted prime minister Imran Khan till April 4 in three terrorism cases registered against him by the Lahore police.
Khan, 70, appeared before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) here and was accompanied by scores of his supporters.
Khan told ATC judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar that he wants to join the investigation in three terrorism cases registered against him by Lahore’s Racecourse police.
“He said although these cases are fake, he has to join the investigation and for that purpose, he is applying for a pre-arrest bail,” a court official told PTI after the hearing.
“While granting him pre-arrest bail till April 4, the judge directed Mr Khan to appear in every hearing of the court. He also asked Mr Khan not to bring a large number of his supporters to the court,” the official said. “If such a large number of people accompanied you in the court next time, I will not hear the case,” the judge told Khan.
The Lahore police had registered these three cases against Khan in connection to the clashes between PTI workers and police during an operation to arrest Khan in the Toshakhana gifts case.
On Friday, the Lahore High Court extended the protective bail of Khan till March 27 in five terrorism cases registered against him in Islamabad.
The former premier is facing over 140 cases under terrorism, murder, attempted murder and blasphemy registered against him during the last 11 months by the PMLN-led coalition government.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, Khan said he will outline his vision of ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ (real freedom) at a rally planned here tonight and urged his supporters not to back off under any circumstance from attending it.
Khan said his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) rally at Minar-i-Pakistan will be the biggest so far and will break all records.
“Tonight will be our 6th jalsa at Minar i Pakistan & my heart tells me it will break all records. I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi & how we will pull Pak out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in,” the PTI chief tweeted.
Talking to the media outside the Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Khan said a public reaction would come on Saturday to whatever method the government will use.
“We will not back off under any circumstance,” Khan was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
Noting that the government will put all sorts of hurdles to prevent people from attending the rally, Khan said he wanted to remind people that it was their fundamental right to attend a political gathering.
“Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence & come to Minar i Pakistan,” he tweeted.
Shipping containers have been placed at various locations in Lahore ahead of the PTI’s rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan tonight.
Police have arrested over 50 PTI workers from different areas, Geo News reported. However, Khan claimed a total of “1,600 workers of ours have been taken away only because they want to fill our Minar-i-Pakistan rally today.” According to PTI’s official Twitter account, the rally will begin after Taraveeh prayers at 9 pm (local time).
The rally was originally scheduled for March 11 and March 12 but was postponed after the party failed to get relief either from the Election Commission or the Lahore High Court against the caretaker Punjab government’s order of imposing Section 144 in the provincial capital.
The interim Punjab government had imposed Section 144 citing a Pakistan Super League match in the Qaddafi Stadium and a marathon race in the city.
However, in a notification on March 12, the administration had allowed the PTI to take out the public rally on Monday (March 13) but mentioned that it would carry “high-security risk due to the general and specific threats against political gatherings and previous instance of attack on the ex-prime minister”.
Khan, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.