Imran Khan in Lahore High Court for bail plea

February 21, 2023 0 Comments

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday appeared at the Lahore High Court, nearly an hour after the 5 pm deadline set earlier in the day. He was accompanied by throngs of supporters and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members who surrounded the court’s premises.

The Lahore High Court had asked PTI chief Imran to appear before it by 5 pm Monday in a hearing for his bail application, Dawn reported. Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh passed the order after Khan failed to appear in person by 2 pm. At the last hearing, Justice Sheikh had warned Khan about issuing a contempt notice.

Last week, on February 15, an Islamabad anti-terrorism court had rejected Khan’s request for an extension in his interim bail in the case, on grounds of non-appearance. Judge Raja Jawad Abbas of the Anti Terrorism Court had said that Khan had been given enough time to appear before the court but he had failed to do so.What is the terrorism case in which Imran is implicated?

A terrorism case was filed against Imran in October 2022, after PTI workers took to the streets and held demonstrations outside Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) offices across the country.

The PTI leadership had encouraged these protests after the apex poll body disqualified Imran from holding public office in the Toshakhana case. The protests devolved into clashes between the protesters and the police in cities like Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar, according to reports by Dawn.

There were also multiple instances of vandalism reported during the protests.Why did Imran not appear before the court?

The anti-terrorism court had granted Imran pre-arrest bail last October, and summoned him to appear before it several times. Prior to today, Imran failed to appear before the court each time.

His lawyers sought exemption from in-person appearance on medical grounds. Lawyer Babar Awan urged the court to grant a one-time exemption from in-person appearance as Imran had not recovered from a gun attack of last year.

PTI leader Asad Umar told reporters earlier today (February 20) that Imran could not “bear any shoving and pushing as per instructions from his doctors”, adding that it was “not a matter of ego (that the ex-premier did not appear before the court)”.

Imran Khan had been shot at on November 3, 2022 in Wazirabad. In his press briefing, Umar told reporters that the PTI chief had not “healed completely yet” and that doctors had cautioned the recovery process could be hindered by “even a slight shake”, reported Dawn.

Apart from his health, Imran’s supporters also cited security issues regarding his appearance in court. Umar said there were some “security requisites” surrounding Imran’s appearance in court, as “he’s the only leader among the few former prime ministers on whom an assassination attempt has been made”.

Imran’s petition for a virtual hearing was rejected by the court.What was the Toshakhana case which led to Imran Khan’s disqualification?

The genesis of this issue can be traced to Imran Khan’s disqualification by the ECP in the landmark Toshakhana reference case on October 21, 2022. The ECP’s verdict barred Imran from holding public office for a period of five years.

The case itself was filed by Imran’s political opponents and accused the ex-prime minister of not disclosing the information about the gifts given to Toshakhana and the supposed sales revenue Imran officially received from different heads of states. The Toshakhana is a department in the Pakistani government which stores gifts and other expensive items received by public officials. Officials must submit their gifts to the Toshakhana.

Since taking office in 2018, Imran Khan had resisted disclosing information on the presents, claiming that doing so would jeopardise relations with other countries. However, the ECP found Imran guilty of engaging in unethical behaviour, making false assertions, and making erroneous declarations, thus disqualifying him from holding public office.

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