PTI chief arrested after found guilty of ‘corrupt practices’ in Toshakhana case

  • Trial court hands down three-year jail, Rs100,000 fine to ex-PM in his, lawyers’ absence
  • Technically Imran now stands disqualified from holding any public office for five years

ISLAMABAD: A move being described as “to change in country’s political landscape”, former premier and PTI Chairman Imran Khan was arrested by the Punjab Police from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore shortly after an Islamabad trial court declared him guilty of “corrupt practices” in Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in prison.

Lahore Capital City Police Chief Bilal Siddique Kamiana confirmed the arrest and told Reuters the former prime minister was being transferred to the capital.

A Punjab Police team headed by SSP CIA Malik Liaquat took the PTI chief into custody and a picture of him sitting in a car with Imran Khan also went viral on social media.

Khan was transferred from Lahore to Islamabad via motorway. He will be lodged in Attock Jail and kept in a lock-up in high security zone.

Later, Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar confirmed the arrest and said that Imran was being shifted to Attock jail.

The PTI chief was taken to PIMS Hospital on reaching the federal capital in a convoy, where he underwent a medical examination.

The PTI chief who was absent from the court, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rs100,000 in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) criminal complaint filed on charges of concealing details of Toshakhana gifts. The legal team of the PTI chief was also not present in the court at the time when the court pronounced the verdict.

The court also declared that the PTI chairman was involved in corrupt practices and had submitted a bogus affidavit with the Election Commission, ordering the Islamabad Police chief to arrest the convict immediately.

After today’s verdict, Imran technically stands disqualified from holding any public office for five years under Article 63(1)(h) of the Constitution.

The law states: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Parliament if he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”

He, however, has the right to appeal the verdict.

Earlier Saturday, the court hearing the Toshakhana case had reserved its judgment in the Toshakhana case which would be announced at 12:30pm as the defense counsel again failed to appear in person.

The court had observed that the judgment would announced if the defence counsel did not appear before it by 12pm. Humayun Dilawar the additional sessions judge passed the order as the accused the PTI chairman – again failed to appear in person as he told the lawyer appearing on behalf of the main defense counsel that Khawaja Haris had been directed to attend the hearing by 8:30am which he failed to do so.

During the hearing, senior lawyer Amjad Pervaiz and Saad Hassan appeared before the judge to represent the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). As the hearing began, the judge asked Amjad Pervaiz whether he wanted to say something. However, Khalid Chaudhry an associate lawyer representing Haris requested the court to give some time as the senior counsel was busy in a NAB court’s proceedings.

During the hearing, Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar ruled that charges against the former prime minister in the case were proven. “Imran Khan deliberately submitted fake details to the Election Commission of Pakistan and is found guilty of corrupt practices,” he stated and sent the PTI chief to jail for three years under Section 174 of the Election Act.

ADSJ Dilawar also directed that a copy of the order should be sent to the Islamabad police chief for the execution of the court orders. However, the ECP counsel interrupted to argue that giving time wasn’t an issue; however, the accused had also been directed to ensure his presence during the hearing.

At this point, the judge asked Chaudhry whether he had the power of attorney to represent the accused in this case, to which he informed the judge that he didn’t and he was a junior lawyer of Barrister Gohar. When asked about the nature of the NAB case, Chaudhry replied that it pertained to the bail of PTI the chairman and his wife.

When asked about the nature of the NAB case, Chaudhry replied that it pertained to the bail of PTI the chairman and his wife.

On this, the ECP counsel again intervened and said Chaudhry didn’t inform when the senior counsel would appear before the session court and that the bail plea was scheduled to heard be at 2:30pm. Meanwhile, the judge observed that non-bailable warrants were issued if an accused failed to appear in person and that Haris too didn’t follow the directions to reach the court at 8:30.

Before the decision was announced, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris appeared before Judge Dilawar and informed the court that his legal team was barred from entering IHC premises.

We want to file for the transfer of this case from your court, he said.

However, the judge instructed him to either present final arguments before noon or the verdict will be issued.

Imran taken into custody without any major resistance

Unlike previous instances, where Zaman Park was usually guarded by party supporters, Imran was taken into custody on Saturday without any major resistance. The PTI also confirmed this in a tweet, saying that the party chief didn’t resist the arrest.

It claimed that the Lahore police arrived at Imran’s residence to “kidnap” him even before the written verdict of the trial court was released. Talking about the case, it alleged that “every process from the beginning of the case to the trial and [Imran’s] abduction is illegal”.

In another tweet, the PTI alleged that the Punjab police “broke into” Zaman Park and “beat up” Imran’s security guards and house staff. “Even though Khan sahib expressed his willingness to go with the police, they still dragged him and covered his face with a cloth,” the party added.

A large contingent of police could also be seen taking the PTI chief to jail.

 

PTI chief’s close aide Awais Niazi also arrested

After arrest of Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Toshakhana reference, his close aide Awais Niazi was also held on Saturday.

The detainee was media coordinator of chairman PTI and he was arrested from Zaman Park.

The Islamabad’s session court has awarded three-year imprisonment to chairman PTI along with Rs100,000 fine after.

The court also issued the arrest warrants of PTI chief besides directing IG Islamabad to implement the decision after which he was arrested from Lahore.

PTI will move SC against biased decision: Spokesperson

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) strongly rejected the biased, one-sided, ridiculous and unlawful judgment in Thoshakhana case against PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan from the kangaroo court in absentia, which would be challenged in the Supreme Court (SC).

PTI spokesperson, in a strong-worded reaction to the biased decision by the most prejudiced Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar in the Toshakhana case, said that the PTI and the nation did not accept the unlawful decision.

The PTI spokesperson announced that the party would challenge the verdict in the apex court, because Dilawar was a certified biased judge and the decision was another black spot in the face of justice system.

He stated that the trial of the case was conducted in the most absurd and biased manner in the history of the country under a specific agenda in total disregard of the facts by the biased judge Humayun Dilawar.

The spokesperson said that in this worst trial in the history, an attempt was made to murder the justice at the hands of a biased and morally discredited judge.

He termed the Sessions Court’s decision as the worst example of political revenge and engineering, adding that it was a shameful invasion on the democracy.

The PTI Spokesperson went on to say that Dilawar’s decision was a desperate attempt to achieve shameful goals like level playing field under the London Plan.

He vowed that the nation would never accept such a conspiracy and vindictive actions against the most popular and honest political leader of the country.

The PTI spokesperson made it clear that the nation would not surrender in the face of fascism and the worst state oppression come what may.

 

PTI chairman moves SC against IHC ruling in Toshakhana case

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman on Saturday moved the Supreme Court against the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) verdict in the Toshakhana criminal case.

The ex- premier filed an application in apex court against IHC ruling through his legal team. The petitioner pleaded with the court to declare the Toshakhana case against him non-maintainable.

The Islamabad High Court on Friday set aside a session court’s verdict that declared the Toshakhana reference against the PTI chairman as maintainable.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had ordered the lower court to rehear the case. The court also rejected the PTI chairman’s appeal to transfer the case to another court and issued a notice for next week on the appeal to restore the right of defence.

Earlier, the trial court had declared the ECP reference against the PTI chief maintainable. The decision was subsequently challenged in the IHC.

The Toshakhana issue became a major sticking point in national politics after the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified the PTI chief for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.

The reference, which alleges that Imran failed to share details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition last year.

The judgement added that the former premier was found to be indulged in corrupt practices under sections 167 and 173 of the constitution. “A criminal proceeding will be initiated against him over filing a false statement.” “His disqualification under Article 63, 1(P) has been for his current parliament membership”, the ECP said in its 36-page detailed judgment of the reference.

Arrest comes three months after his first arrest on May 9

The PTI chairman’s arrest today comes approximately three months after his first arrest on May 9 when he was detained in Islamabad from the high court’s premises in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

Imran’s arrest that day had resulted in widespread violence and saw important military installations come under attack, on the basis of which the state had launched a severe crackdown against his party.

While Imran was released the next day, thousands of PTI workers and almost the entire top-tier leadership was rounded up.

What followed was a large number of party leaders holding press conferences, condemning the May 9 riots — some also called out Imran and his politics — and disassociating themselves with the PTI. The party’s dismantlement has continued since then, barring some senior PTI leaders, most of whom are still behind bars.

While the mass exodus as well as a near-complete blackout of Imran on local media has left the PTI’s future uncertain in the upcoming polls, it also gave birth to a new home for most PTI deserters, Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), hosted by Jahangir Khan Tareen.

 

 

PTI chief asks supporters to continue peaceful protests

In a pre-recorded message shared on his Twitter a few hours after arrest, Imran said: “By the time this message reaches you, I will be in jail.”

“In the wake of my arrest,” the PTI chief said, “I want you to continue peaceful protests and not to sit quietly inside your houses.”

“My movement is not for myself, but for you, for the future of your children,” he stressed, recalling that Pakistan too was found on the concept of freedom.

“If you will not stand up for your rights, you will live a life that is of slaves and slaves have no life. Slaves are similar to how ants are — on the ground — they do not fly high.

“This is a battle for your rights and freedom … you have to continue peaceful protests until you get your right, which is seeing a government elected by you and not a qabza mafia,” Imran added.

 

Crackdown launched against PTI workers to ensure law and order

In the aftermath of the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana criminal case, authorities in Punjab have initiated a comprehensive crackdown on PTI workers and leaders to ensure the maintenance of law and order in the province.

As part of the operation, police conducted raids on the residences of PTI workers and leaders in various areas of Lahore.

The crackdown, spearheaded by Operation Police, aims to establish control over law and order on the streets and prevent any untoward incidents that may arise due to the prevailing political situation.

Sources within the police department reported that the Investigation and CIA police units are actively involved in carrying out the raids at the houses of PTI activists and influential members of the party.

Amidst the unfolding situation, police sources have asserted that any form of protest or public demonstration by PTI supporters will be dealt with promptly and those involved will be detained immediately.

To facilitate their efforts, the Lahore Police have been provided with lists of PTI workers and leaders, providing crucial information that can aid in swiftly identifying and addressing any instances of unrest.

 

PTI announces country-wide protests

In a handout issued after its emergency core committee meeting, the party said it discussed the future plan of action and legal measures to secure Imran’s release.

The party called for peaceful protests across the country within the ambit of the law and the Constitution and also appealed to the Supreme Court to hear its review petition — filed earlier in the day against the maintainability of the Toshakhana case.

The PTI said it had started acting on Imran’s instructions for its organisation and political plan of action, further adding that the entire nation had rejected the session court’s verdict.

The party also shared a video, saying its supporters had started gathering outside the Pakistan High Commission in London to protest Imran’s arrest.

Television footage showed PTI supporters, including lawyers, protesting Imran’s arrest outside his Zaman park residence in Lahore. Protesters also came out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu with party flags.

According to the spokesperson of the Lahore deputy inspector general of police (operations), 20 PTI supporters were arrested when they tried to protest outside Zaman Park. He said 48 more were arrested in Civil Lines.

There were reports of multiple arrests in Karachi as well. The PTI claimed that the senior vice president of the party’s Sindh chapter, Rizwan Khanzada, had been arrested in Karachi.

Meanwhile, Puran sub-divisional police officer Sher Hassan Khan confirmed to Dawn.com that PTI tehsil chairman Abdul Maula Khan was arrested by Shangla police during a protest in Aloch.

In KP’s Shangla, the district administration has placed a ban on the gathering of more than four persons to prevent a law and order situation in the district. It also barred “provocative social media posts” that may incite public to break the law and order and “contain disparaging remarks against state institutions”.

The notification added the directives would remain in place from Aug 5 to September 5.

A similar ban under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was also imposed in Peshawar and notified by the city’s deputy commissioner (DC).

The notification issued by the DC’s office, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said any “unlawful or unauthorised gathering/ assembly of any nature may become a target of militants which could not only result in loss of precious lives and property but also endanger the peace and tranquillity of the district, and it has become imperative to take extraordinary measures in the greater public interest to prevent such breach of peace”.

It added that circumstances and “sufficient reasons” existed which warranted “immediate preventive measures” under Section 144 of the CrPC.

Hence, it said, a ban was being imposed on “any kind of unlawful and unauthorised gathering, rally, assembly, protest etc. of more than five people” in Peshawar.

The ban will remain in place for seven days starting today.

 

Haven’t seen this kind of injustice before: Imran’s lawyer

Following the verdict, Imran’s lawyer Barrister Gohar Khan expressed his disappointment and deemed it “a murder of justice”.

“I was very disappointed and disheartened,” he told Dawn.com. “Justice was murdered.

“We weren’t even given a chance. We weren’t even allowed to cross [question], to say anything in defence or conduct our arguments. I haven’t seen this kind of injustice before.”

Later, PTI lawyer Shoaib Shaheen said in a press conference that their witnesses were not allowed in the court.

Presenting witnesses was a fundamental right and the PTI was not given a “fair trial”, he decried.

“Justice is being bulldozed and buried,” the lawyer said.

In a video message, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the public had found today’s verdict “against the formalities of justice”.

“Imran Khan’s fundamental right of fair trial was not provided,” he claimed and called on party supporters to continue efforts for the PTI chief’s release.

“We have to make both political and legal efforts, and move forward in a peaceful manner,” Qureshi said, urging supporter against taking the law in their hands.

PTI leader Asad Umar, who left his position as PTI genera secretary following May 9 riots but is still part of the party, said: “Today’s decision does not even meet the basic principle of law that the serving of justice should be seen.

“This decision will not stand in a higher court. And meaningful decisions about politicians are made in the hearts of the people, not in the courts,” he added.

PTI leader Asad Qaiser, who unlike many of his peers did not leave the PTI in the aftermath of the May 9 violence, termed the judgement a “biased decision by a biased judge that has no legal standing”.

He said the “pre-written judgment was delivered in haste without following any legal procedure”. He further said that the PTI and the Pakistani people “reject this biased decision” and vowed to approach every possible forum against it.

Former parliamentary secretary of law and ex-PTI leader Barrister Maleeka Bokhari said that “on the orders of [PML-N leader] Maryam Nawaz for a level playing field — to balance the scales — justice was killed today”.

Meanwhile, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a long-time ally of Imran, expressed grief over the PTI chief’s arrest and hoped that the Supreme Court would provide him relief and justice.

SCBA expresses concern on judgement

Separately, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) expresses “serious reservations in relation to the legality” of today’s judgement leading to Imran’s arrest.

In a statement, SCBA President Barrister Abid S. Zuberi and Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir said the judgement was issued in a “blatant violation” of the Islamabad High Court’s order, in which the trial court judge was asked to re-examine the jurisdiction of the ECP’s complaint.

“It is truly unfortunate that the Court has decided the case in absolute haste and without affording the accused a fair opportunity of hearing and in the absence of the counsel for the accused, which is in blatant violation of the accused’s fundamental rights as enshrined under Articles 4, 9, 10, 10A and 25 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the statement read.

It said “such a hasty decision is against all settled principles of fairness, natural justice and due process of law and the timing of such a decision appears to be aimed at excluding political leaders from participating in upcoming elections”.

The statement added: “That the historical trend of disqualification and ban of popular political leaders by the judiciary is against the principles of democracy and fair trial as enshrined under the Constitution.

“It is pertinent to remember that the judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution and the fundamental rights enshrined therein; therefore, such judgments will only lower the people’s faith in the judiciary to uphold justice.”

Arrest not linked to political motive or elections: Marriyum

Addressing a press conference on the matter in Islamabad, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PTI chief refused to respond to the charges against him and resisted at various points whenever there were attempts to retrieve him for interrogation.

“Let me make it clear that the entire investigation in the case took place over 12 to 13 months,” she said, adding that Imran was arrested after fulfilling all stages of legal obligations and requirements.

“There was no political motive of the government involved behind his arrest,” the minister asserted, clarifying that the events also did not have anything to do with the upcoming general elections.

Aurangzeb further said that out of 40 hearing in the case Imran appeared in only three, adding that he attempted to use every legal platform to escape from the proceedings.

She also rebuffed any comparison between the arrests of Imran Khan and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.

 

 

 

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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