The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended non-bailable arrest warrants issued for PTI Chairman Imran Khan till March 18, providing him with a chance to appear before the trial court hearing the Toshakhana reference against the former premier.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also instructed the Islamabad district and sessions court and capital police to provide adequate security to Imran.
Embroiled in legal complexities, Imran has been resisting arrest in the Toshakhana case and is holed up inside his Zaman Park residence surrounded by hundreds of supporters, who have fought “pitched battles” with the police and Rangers over the past few days.
The Islamabad police, backed up by their Punjab Police compatriots and the Rangers, arrived at the ex-premier’s house on Tuesday to execute non-bailable arrest warrants issued by an Islamabad sessions court for him in the Toshakhana reference — in which he has skipped several hearings.
However, the law enforcement agencies retreated on Wednesday evening, saying that the operation had been paused during the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL). Separately, the LHC had also intervened and postponed the operation.
On Thursday, an Islamabad sessions court — where PTI had gone for the suspension of Imran’s arrest warrants — upheld the warrants that it issued, observing that the PTI chief had “challenged the dignity and writ of the state”. It also maintained its order to arrest the ex-premier and present him in court by March 18.
Earlier today, the former prime minister filed yet another petition in the IHC challenging the verdict of the trial court. In the plea, Imran prayed that the trial court’s order be set aside and his arrest warrants be suspended “till the final disposal of the petition” so that the PTI chief could appear in court on March 18.
During the hearing, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris submitted an undertaking by his client, assuring that the PTI chief would appear in court on March 18.
At the outset of the hearing, the court inquired about the basis on which the trial court rejected the undertaking provided by Imran to which Haris said the trial court stated that non-bailable warrants could not be cancelled.
The lawyer also stated that Imran had security concerns.
“I have been informed by the administration that security arrangements were being made. The trial court judge has also issued orders in this regard and I will ensure this as well,” Justice Farooq said.
He also warned that contempt of court proceedings could be initiated against Imran if he violated the undertaking submitted.
“My client will appear in court tomorrow no matter what happens,” Imran’s lawyer replied.
Subsequently, Justice Farooq suspended Imran’s arrest warrants till the sessions court’s hearing tomorrow and stopped Islamabad police from “harassing” him.
He also instructed Imran to appear in the trial court on March 18.
Imran to go to LHC to assure in-person appearance in Islamabad court
Separately, Imran has planned to go to the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday and provide assurance that he was ready to appear before the Islamabad sessions court — which has issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the former premier — on March 18.
“Imran Khan will come to LHC himself and assure the judge that he is ready to go to the Islamabad court,” PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told media persons today, adding that “an undertaking has also been given in this regard”.
Speaking to media persons outside the LHC, Chaudhry demanded that the PTI chief should be given a “safe passage” to appear in the Islamabad sessions court.
He clarified that the arrest warrant issued for the ex-premier was merely to ensure his presence in court. “Imran Khan’s arrest is not the motive of the warrant. Only ensuring his presence is.”