LHC hears plea against Punjab’s approval of more cases against Imran, party leaders today

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) will hear on Thursday (tomorrow) a PTI petition against the Punjab government’s pursuit of legal action against party founder Imran Khan and other party leaders.

The high court will conduct the hearing tomorrow.

Last week, the Punjab cabinet had approved a ‘fresh legal action’ (new cases) against Imran and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in manufacturing a ‘narrative of hate’ against state institutions, especially the army.

“The Punjab cabinet has approved a legal action against former prime minister Imran Khan and his other party leaders for building hate narrative against the state institutions,” Punjab Information Minister Azma Bokhari had told a presser after the cabinet meeting.

Today, the PTI submitted a petition in the LHC against the Punjab government’s move through party leader Advocate Latif Khosa.

The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, named Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman, Punjab Home Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal, Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmad Butt as respondents.

Also named are the federal interior secretary and the director-generals of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Islamabad and Punjab divisions.

The petition requested that the Punjab cabinet’s decision to pursue legal action against Imran and other PTI leaders be declared “without lawful authority and of no legal consequence in the interest of justice”.

It argued that registering cases against Imran and other PTI leaders would violate Articles 4 (the right of an individual to enjoy the protection of the law), 5 (loyalty to the state), 7 (definition of the state), 9 (security of person), 10 (safeguards as to arrest and detention), 14 (inviolability of dignity of man), 16 (freedom of assembly), 19 (freedom of speech) and 25 (equality of citizens) of the Constitution.

The petition also accused the federal government of being “scared” of Imran and involving the party founder in “false, trumped-up cases” to prevent his release in “the false and maliciously motivated cases” currently lodged against him, his wife Bushra Bibi and other party leaders and members.

“Since the governments set up and installed in the federation and the province of Punjab are shorn of public support they feel absolutely insecure and feel threatened with release of the petitioner from jail. The farcical governments in the federation and Punjab proven to be a complete disaster and a total failure.

“The economy is on the brink of disaster, the unprecedented inflation and currency devaluation consequent to the ouster of the petitioner’s government has created an ungovernable situation. All out efforts of removing the petitioner from the political landscape were counterproductive in that the petitioner’s popularity stands unparalleled and is surging with every repressive act of transgression of human fundamental right,” the petition argued.

Action against Imran

Sources privy to the development had told Dawn that the Maryam Nawaz administration had authorised an SP-rank officer to register a case against the incarcerated prime minister for his tirade against the military for the 1971 episode. He is also being accused of launching a tirade against state institutions and their heads.

“This is the first time that the Punjab government has decided to take permission from the full cabinet presided over by CM Maryam to lodge a fresh FIR against Khan. Earlier, the permission to launch FIRs in May 9 violence incidents were granted by the cabinet committee on law and order,” sources had said.

Sources had said a complaint against Imran was filed by an Islamabad-based journalist who had presented different clips, audio, interviews and newspaper cuttings to support his claim regarding the PTI founder’s anti-state narrative.

“The journalist, whose name is currently being kept secret, has levelled allegations that the PTI founder chairman had also launched a tirade against state institutions as well as their heads. Khan had written and sent an anti-Pakistan article from jail to a British newspaper according to the journalist’s complaint,” they had said.

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