Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday said his party will move the superior courts regarding the “violence” inflicted on the PTI workers and supporters by the government during its recent ‘Azadi March’ to Islamabad.
Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, Imran recalled the tear-gas shelling and other incidents of heavy handed tactics allegedly used during the march, which ended in abrupt fashion on Thursday after an intense buildup throughout the previous day. He said the use of violence against his party’s “peaceful protest” will be raised in front of international human rights organisations as well.
“We are taking the petition in the Supreme Court on Monday and asking whether or not a peaceful protest in this country is a right of a democratic party. Tell us clearly if this harassment would continue if we stage a peaceful protest,” he said.
The PTI chairman lashed out at the government for its measures to clamp down on the Azadi March and the use of police to quell the people. “We have information that they set fire to trees … to frame us,” he added.
Apart from approaching the apex court, Imran said that the PTI will get registered cases against Lahore DIG (Operations) Sohail Chaudhry and Islamabad IGP Dr Akbar Nasir Khan.
The matter would be a test for democracy and the judiciary as well.
Imran claimed the country was heading towards destruction and it was the responsibility of the entire nation to prevent it. “If it continues this way then all those who allowed such corrupt criminals and convicts [to come to power] will be held responsible,” he warned.
The PTI chairman claimed the courts had always “given favours and benefits” to the Sharif family in the cases against them.
He lashed out at the government for its economic performance since coming to power and highlighted the slide of the rupee and stock market.
Imran also blasted the government for increasing the prices of petroleum products and its decision to not pursue a deal with Russia to procure cheaper oil and gas.
The PTI chairman also explained his decision to end the Azadi March, saying that he did so because of the “anger in our people”. He said he feared the anger would spill over into bloodshed and that it was never his aim to enable violence and instability.
Imran said new elections were his “number one priority” and discussions on other issues could be held once the matter of elections was on the table. “I’m ready for every kind of negotiation leading up to fair and transparent elections.”
The PTI chairman said the party had learned many lessons from the Azadi March and it had developed contingencies to counter the government’s heavy handed measures and would be better prepared next time.
Imran said he had issued directions to the PTI leadership to go to their constituencies and start preparations for the party’s next march, claiming that a record numbers of people would turn up this time.
“We have decided today, we have analysed and we have begun all our preparations, I will announce when we are coming to Islamabad [again]. This time we will come with preparations.”
Imran also said the PTI would legally challenge the government’s move to “revoke voting rights for overseas Pakistanis” and its changes to the National Accountability Bureau laws.
16 cases registered against PTI top brass over Islamabad riots
Islamabad Police have registered 16 cases against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other senior leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar, following the riots in the federal capital during the ‘Azadi March’.
Shireen Mazari, Zartaj Gul, Ali Amin Gandapur, and Raja Khurram Nawaz have also been named in the first information reports (FIRs).
The cases have been registered for blocking of roads, disrupting state affairs, attacking police personnel and damaging the property.
The development came two days after after multiple PTI leaders – Khan, Umar, Imran Ismail, Raja Khurram, Gandapur, and Ali Nawaz Awan – were booked for creating disruption in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted protective bail to PTI leader and former information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and his brother Faraz Ahmed in a case registered against them for allegedly provoking people against the government and rioting in the jurisdiction of Mangla police in Jhelum during the PTI’s ‘Azadi March’.
Bail was granted to the brothers against a surety of Rs5,000 each and the petition was disposed of thereafter. The case was registered at Mangla Police Station in Jhelum, and 150 to 200 others have also been booked in the case.
Chaudhry and Ahmed had filed a petition for their protective bail in the IHC, where Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up their plea.
The IHC CJ in his order noted that Fawad and his brother had sought bail in a first information report dated May 25. The order said the brothers’ counsel had argued that they had been involved in the case “with mala fide intention and ulterior motives”.
Allowing Chaudhry and Ahmed bail, the court said: “Without touching merits of the case and considering the intention to surrender before the court of competent jurisdiction, the petitioners are admitted to protective bail, subject to furnishing surety in the sum of Rs.5,000/- (Rupees Five Thousand Only) with one surety in the like amount (EACH), to the satisfaction of the Deputy Registrar (Judicial) of this Court.”
The court also directed the petitioners to approach the court of the competent jurisdiction on or before June 7, stating that “this order will lapse automatically on June 7, 2022”.