ISLAMABAD: Despite enjoying immunity under the constitution, President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday appeared before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in the 2014 Pakistan Television (PTV) and Parliament House attack case.
Alvi, who is nominated in the case, came to the ATC along with his counsel Babar Awan and filed an application to decline availing presidential immunity which he enjoys under Article 248 of the Constitution.
The hearing was conducted by ATC judge Muhammad Ali Warraich. The president informed the court that he had the prerogative to avail immunity under the laws of Pakistan, but he chose to withdraw it as he believed there should no difference between anyone.
“When I learned that the court is about to pen its verdict in the case, I decided to appear so there should be no talk that I did not appear,” he told the judge.
The president said he tried to learn more about immunity through studying Islamic history, saying it helped him understand that there was no room for immunity at all.
“All the caliphs appeared in courts with great dignity,” he added. He appealed to the court to remove the backlog of cases and ensure quick dispensation of justice. “I also understand that there is a burden on the judiciary,” he added. He said his father had filed a case in 1977 which was still subjudice. The court had reserved the verdict in the case last month, which will be announced on March 9.
Later, talking to journalists outside the court, he said he was bound to follow the country’s laws but insisted that he did not want to avail immunity in the case.
“I appeared before the court today as a common citizen and not as the president of Pakistan,” he said.
In August 2014, the PTI and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) had staged a sit-in in Islamabad, which continued till December that year. The protest had continued for a record 104 days.
On August 31, 2014, the PTI and PAT workers marched towards the Parliament House and Prime Minister House and clashed with police deployed at Constitution Avenue.
The protesters also attacked the premises of the PTV and briefly took control of the building.
Police invoked the Anti-Terrorism Act against the PTI chief, Imran Khan, and leaders including Arif Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood, and Raja Khurram Nawaz for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in.
As per the prosecution, three people were killed and 26 others were injured, while 60 individuals were arrested.
The prosecution had submitted 65 photos, sticks, cutters, and other objects to the court as evidence to establish its case.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022