— Ex-minister arrested for accusing ECP of deferring to army, warning ‘those going after PTI’ of Article 6 proceedings
— Party says leader shifted to Islamabad despite LHC order
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) summoned the police chiefs of the provincial capital and Islamabad over the failure of the interim Punjab government to produce Fawad Chaudhry, senior vice president of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who according to the party was “picked up” from outside his residence in the predawn hours of Wednesday.
The order came after the advocate general of Punjab, Chaudhry Jawad Yaqoob, told the high court that Chaudhry — whose “illegal” arrest was carried out by unidentified individuals in four Hilux pick-up trucks without license plates, according to his brother — was in the custody of the Islamabad police.
Faisal Chaudhry, Chaudhry’s brother, said the “abductors” who arrived around 5:30 am did not inform their family of the charges or location of the arrestee.
Disgusting. ECP was after my brother since long. It’s A farce Thy must know we won’t bow down we’ll keep exposing wrong doings of ECPمعمولی گیڈڑ بھبکیاںں سچ بولنے سے روک نہیں سکتیں ECP کافی دنوں سے چوہدری صاحب کے پیچھے پڑا تھا۔ یہ ایک جھوٹا مقدمہ ہے ہم ہر زیادتی کی خلاف لڑیں گے https://t.co/JXd7x9i6kP
— Faisal Hussain (@faisal_fareed) January 25, 2023
Faisal himself was arrested from Jhelum hours later, the opposition party said.
The former minister’s arrest comes after a first information report (FIR) was registered against him in the Kohsar police station in Islamabad, on the complaint of the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Umar Hameed.
According to the complaint, Chaudhry made derogatory remarks about the commission, likening it to a munshi (secretary) and suggesting that it follows orders from higher-ups, a reference to the military.
اہم خبر ، اسلام آباد کے تھانہ کوہسار میں سیکرٹری الیکشن کمیشن کی شکایت پر فواد چوہدری کے خلاف مقدمہ درج ، اسی پر گرفتاری عمل میں لائی گئی ایف آئی آر کے مطابق فواد چوہدری نے الیکشن کمیشن کو “منشی کے کردار” سے تشبیہ دی اور کہا جو اوپر آتا ہے وہی الیکشن کمیشن کر دیتا ہے
— Saqib Bashir (@saqibbashir156) January 25, 2023
It further claims that Chaudhry, in a speech outside former prime minister Imran Khan’s house late on Tuesday, threatened the tribunal saying that “those who become part of the caretaker government [in Punjab] will be pursued until they are punished.”
The FIR cites sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The Islamabad police later stated in a tweet that Chaudhry attempted to “incite violence against a constitutional institution” and “inflame the sentiments of the people”.
The police further stated that the case will be processed as per the law.
In the court, the investigating officer requested that the court grant transit remand for Chaudhry to the Islamabad police.
Chaudhry, a former Supreme Court lawyer himself, however, requested a copy of the complaint filed against him and stated that he was proud of the charges against him, comparing them to those faced by Nelson Mandela.
He also expressed disappointment at the way he was arrested, saying that he would have come to court voluntarily if he had been contacted.
He also defended his previous comments against the head of the election commission, stating that “the entire country is saying the same.”
Separately, in a fiery video message posted to the PTI’s Twitter account, Chaudhry declared that if speaking out against the government is considered rebellion, then the entire nation should rise up.
He emphasized that the charges of contempt against the ECP were an attempt to silence criticism and called on the people of Pakistan to stand in solidarity with the party.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 25, 2023
The former minister said that true rebellion is a duty, and that all 220 million people of Pakistan should come together to change the system for the betterment of future generations. He also declared that the PTI, led by Khan, is willing to go to jail for the rights of the people, and that the trials they face are nothing but mere trinkets on the path to victory. He urged the nation to join them in the fight for change.
Police also arrest Fawad Chaudhry’s brother from Jhelum
Police have also arrested brother of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry where he was leading a demonstration in Jhelum to protest against the arrest of his brother and PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry.
Hours after the arrest of Fawad Ch, the police also arrested his brother Faraz Chaudhry who was leading a protest against the capture of his brother in Jhelum on Wednesday.
PTI workers protested against the arrest of Fawad setting tyres on fire and blocked the GT Road for traffic. Fawad Chaudhry’s brother Faraz Chaudhry and former MPA Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal were also present among the protesters when police took action. The protesters shouted slogans against the government.
Fawad Chaudhry was arrested from his house in Lahore early morning today in a case pertaining to “inciting violence against a constitutional institution”.
An FIR against him was registered at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station by an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “threatening” the body’s members.
Earlier, Fawad’s another sibling Faisal Chaudhry told media that some unknown persons came in vehicles without number plates and illegally took Fawad with them. They did not show any warrants nor did reveal their identities.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the arrest of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry — who was arrested earlier today for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution” — observing that his detention was “not illegal”.
Justice Tariq Saleem heard the petition challenging the PTI leader’s arrest. The hearing was adjourned at least four times as the judge repeatedly directed authorities to present Fawad before the court.
The former federal minister was taken into custody early Wednesday morning after a first information report (FIR) against him was registered at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station by an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “threatening” the electoral body’s members and their families.
According to Fawad’s brother, Faisal, the former federal minister was “taken away” in four cars that did not have any number plates at 5:30am. Faisal said that the family was unaware of Fawad’s location at the time.
“We are also not being given any details of the FIR registered against him,” he said. Faisal, who is also a prominent lawyer, termed his brother’s arrest “illegal” and asserted that he will fight this battle in court.
Later, the PTI leader was brought to Lahore’s Cantt court where the judicial magistrate granted police Fawad’s transit remand.
Separately, a petition was filed in the LHC by Fawad’s cousin Nabeel Shahzad against the arrest. The application — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — named the Punjab government, provincial police officer, counter-terrorism department, deputy inspector general of police (operation) and station house officer of Defence A as respondents in the case.
It said that the PTI leader was apprehended “illegally, unconstitutionally and without legal authority” and demanded that police officials should be directed to recover Fawad from the “illegal and unlawful confinement” and produce him before the high court.
At the outset of today’s hearing, Justice Sheikh instructed the police to present Fawad in court by 1:30pm. However, when the proceedings resumed at 2pm, Punjab Advocate General (AAG) Chaudhry Muhammad Jawad Yaqub said that he was not in the position to tell where Fawad was.
On the other hand, PTI lawyer Azhar Siddique told the court that they had just learnt that Fawad was being taken to Islamabad.
“The orders that I give, I make sure they are implemented,” Justice Sheikh said here. “Even if he [Fawad] has reached Islamabad, bring him back and present him before the court.”
In his response, the AAG said that he will ensure that the court’s orders were executed and sought some time. Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned for 30 minutes.
When it resumed, the judge inquired: “Where is Fawad?”
The AAG replied that Fawad was in the custody of the Islamabad police after which Justice Sheikh summoned the inspector generals of Islamabad and Punjab to court.
“The IGs of Islamabad and Punjab should appear in the court by 6pm,” he said and instructed the LHC registrar to immediately communicate the orders to them.
But only the Punjab IG was present when the hearing resumed shortly after 6pm.
Fawad’s lawyer stated that his client had not been presented in court yet again. “It is alarming that he was not produced before the court despite the court’s directives,” he said.
For his part, Punjab IG Dr Usman Anwar informed the court that he was present in Rahim Yar Khan where mobile signals were weak. “I received the court’s directives regarding Fawad once mobile signals started working,” he said, asserting that the court could “check his track record”.
He maintained that he had tried to get in touch with Islamabad police but was unable to do so, adding that his “operator” was still making efforts in this regard.
“Fawad Chaudhry is not in the Punjab police’s custody. He is in the Islamabad police’s custody,” IG Anwar told the court.
Meanwhile, the AAG presented a copy of the case registered against Fawad. “On the basis of this FIR, the Islamabad police got in touch with the relevant police station in Lahore to make the arrest,” he said, adding that a local court then granted police the PTI leader’s transitory remand.
He further said that Fawad was “not being held hostage”, telling the LHC that the PTI leader’s lawyers were present for the remand hearing.
However, Fawad’s lawyer Siddique told the court that he wanted his “kidnapped client” to be presented before the court. “I have never before witnessed this where the court issues directives for producing someone four times and the person is not presented.”
He further said that the entire “process” was indicative of malice on the police’s part. “There has to be a reason why Fawad is not being presented before the court,” he said.
Siddique said that the speech on the basis of which the FIR was registered was delivered at 5pm whereas the case was registered at 10pm. He questioned when the police investigation had taken place, adding that the sedition charges against his client were “political” in nature.
At one point, Justice Saleem asked Fawad’s lawyer Azhar Siddique what exactly he wanted from the court.
“We want the court’s directives to be followed and for Fawad to be produced before the court. We want the arrest to be declared illegal,” the lawyer replied.
“What is illegal in Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest?” Justice Saleem asked. “He was arrested and then presented before a relevant court in Lahore.”
He told Fawad’s lawyer to approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his client’s arrest and subsequently dismissed the petition.
Meanwhile, in a tweet, PTI leader Hammad Azhar claimed that Fawad was being transported to Islamabad via the motorway “in clear defiance of the high court’s orders”.
Farrukh Habib shared a video which, according to him, was from the Kala Shah Kaku interchange. In the video, he can be seen trying to stop the convoy that was taking Chaudhry. He can be seen repeatedly was also shouting “obey the orders of the court” and banging the hood of a pickup.
Habib could also be seen yelling at one of the passengers inside the pickup. He was then stopped by law enforcement officials and at one point attempted to stop the car from moving by coming in front of it.
In his tweet, Habib alleged that the law enforcers shot at him.
Cantt court grants police Fawad’s transit remand
At 10am, Fawad was brought to Lahore’s Cantt court by officials of the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department and police. Upon his entrance, PTI lawyers showered rose petals on Fawad.
Talking to the media outside the court, Fawad said that those who arrested him should be ashamed of themselves.
“They have deployed so much police as if they are escorting James Bond,” he said, adding that the police kept him in the “category of terrorists”.
As the hearing began, the investigating officer requested the court to grant Islamabad police the PTI leader’s transit remand.
For his part, Fawad asked the judge to provide him with a copy of the FIR registered against him. He went on to say that he was proud of the charges against him. “These allegations were also levelled at Nelson Mandela.”
“It is being said that I have committed sedition […] I am a former Supreme Court lawyer and federal minister […] I should be treated with respect,” he told the court.
The PTI leader said that the way he was arrested was “inappropriate”. “Had they called me, I would have come myself.”
Commenting on his remarks against the ECP, he said that “the entire country is saying the same”.
Meanwhile, Fawad’s lawyer said a habeas corpus petition — a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention — filed by Fawad was pending in the Lahore High Court. “Until a decision is taken on that, a transit remand can’t be granted.”
Here, the judicial magistrate instructed the police to conduct a medical examination of Fawad at the Lahore Services Hospital and present him before a court in Islamabad today.
In a video message shared on PTI’s official Twitter account after the hearing, Fawad said that if criticism was rebellion then the entire nation should come out on the streets.
“They have registered this case on charges of contempt against the election commission […] this is their attitude and they expect us to not even criticise them.
“Rebellion is a duty. All the 220 million people in the country should come out and rebel against this system otherwise your children will suffer too,” he said.
“Today, Imran Khan and the PTI are standing up for your rights. We are going to jail but these handcuffs are like jewellery to us […] god willing, we will emerge victorious from these trials.
“But it is the nation’s job to come out and change the system,” Fawad added.
A first information report has been registered against the PTI leader at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad on the complaint of Secretary of the Election Commission Umar Hameed.
The complaint — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — invokes sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code at Islamabad’s Kohsar Police Station.
It stated that Fawad, in a speech outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s house, threatened the ECP and said that “those who become part of the caretaker government [in Punjab] will be pursued until they are punished”.
Later in a tweet, the Islamabad police said that Fawad tried to “incite violence against a constitutional institution” and “inflame the sentiments of the people”.