- Court had earlier reserved its verdict in the case
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has termed the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan legal. The former prime minister was earlier arrested on Tuesday in the Al-Qadir Trust Case by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) outside the IHC, a massive political development that triggered protests across the country.
PTI workers, who had gathered with the party chief as he made a court appearance, were reportedly injured after a ruckus with law-enforcement personnel over the arrest.
Footage showed Imran being taken away in a vehicle, leaving behind the wheelchair he used since being shot in the leg last year.
In a tweet following the development, PTI’s official Twitter account stated that “rangers abducted PTI Chairman Imran Khan, these are the visuals. Pakistan’s brave people must come out and defend their country”.
Separately, it also said “they have badly pushed injured Imran Khan. Pakistan’s people, this is the time to save your country. You won’t get any other opportunity”.
In another tweet, it said: “‘this is how they’re treating Pakistan’s national leader inside the court premises. Unbelievable and disgusting”.
Speaking to Aaj News, PTI leader and party vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the arrest was a part of “the London plan”, a reference to Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo.
No amount of condemnation is enough for this, Qureshi added.
The arrest outside IHC
A witness said shortly after Imran entered the gate of the IHC, contingents of paramilitary forces and armoured personnel carriers entered after him, Reuters reported.
The gate was blocked by the armoured vehicles while Imran was whisked away shortly after under heavy security, the witness added.
‘People should come out on streets’
As tempers flared, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry asked people to come out on streets in support of Imran.
“People should come out of their homes, Islamabad High Court has been attacked, Imran Khan’s arrest is equivalent to shutting down the judiciary,” he said.
Separately, he said the IHC has been occupied by Rangers and “lawyers are being subjected to torture, Imran Khan’s car has been surrounded”.
He also said that “Imran has been abducted from Court premises, scores of lawyers and general people have been tortured, Imran Khan has been whisked away by unknown people to an unknown location”.
In a tweet, he said that IHC chief justice has ordered interior secretary and IG police to appear within 15 minutes in court.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar said in a video message that “reportedly, police is torturing Imran Khan. Imran is our red line”.
“Imran Khan is innocent and he has done nothing wrong. He hasn’t laundered money and he did not leave country.
“I request the public to fill the streets else this country will go into the hands of these robbers.”
In another post tweeted by PTI’s official account, the party told workers that “if you don’t come out to save your country today, then the scene we are seeing right now will continue till years to come.”
“Our dear Pakistan, its a never before opportunity for you, take it.”
As per PTI’s official Twitter handle, Imran’s lawyer got injured inside the premises of IHC.
“Black day for our democracy and country,” it said.
6-member committee to announce plan of action
PTI leader Asad Umar said in a tweet that “Pakistan’s biggest political leader arrested after attacking High Court”.
“The whole world is being shown that there is no law left in the country. A 6-member committee headed by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, which was formed by Imran Khan, will announce the plan of action.”
“Law enforcement torturing Imran”
In a tweet, PTI leader Musarrat Jamshed Cheema said “law enforcement is torturing Imran Khan right now they are beating Khan sahib. They have done something with Khan sahib.”
PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood condemned Imran’s arrest in a tweet
“He was also manhandled and mistreated. This is height of fascism and totally unacceptable. Rule of law in the country is over.”
Imran arrested for damaging national treasury
In a tweet, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said “Imran did not appear despite the notices, NAB has arrested him for damaging the national treasury. No violence was done to them.”
In a press conference later during the day, Rana Sanaullah asked the public to refrain from creating roadblocks and unrest to protest against Imran’s arrest.
He stated that no one has the right to block roads. Miscreants will be dealt with accordingly, he said.
He said Imran has been arrested for helping in the misappropriation of Rs60 billion worth of state funds during his government’s tenure.
In a tweet earlier during the day, Rana Sanaullah also refuted reports that Imran was being tortured.
IHC reserves verdict on arrest
Following the arrest, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took notice of the matter and summoned the Islamabad IG and the interior secretary within “15 minutes”.
He also directed the additional attorney general to appear before the court in 15 minutes and instructed him to immediately find out who was behind the arrest.
“If an inquiry has to be conducted, action will also be taken against the prime minister and ministers,” the chief justice said.
Later, the court reserved its verdict on the case before declaring it legal.
Section 144 imposed in Islamabad
Islamabad police notified that Section 144 was enforced in Islamabad following the arrest.
According to it, “no violence was done to any individual. There is a police cordon around Imran Khan’s car.”
Moreover, police confirmed that Imran was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
“Violators of Section 144 will be dealt with accordingly,” it said.
Before departing to Islamabad from Lahore, Imran had said in a video message that “my reply to ISPR and attempts by PDM & their handlers to arrest me for two reasons ie to prevent me from campaigning because when elections are announced I will be doing jalsas”.
“Secondly, they want to prevent me from mobilising the masses for street movement in support of Constitution if PDM govt & their handlers refuse to obey the SC & violate Constitution on holding of elections.”
What is Al-Qadir Trust Case?
The case refers to out-of-court settlement made of over Rs50 billion in laundered money by the previous government.
The details of the case state that Rs50 billion were illegally transferred to the United Kingdom by housing society in the previous government.
Seemingly, the housing society had illegally transferred Rs50 billion to a Pakistani national in the UK. The transfer was also acknowledged by the UK’s National Crime Agency, which subsequently informed the previous PTI government of the crime.
As per details, Imran had tasked Shehzad Akbar, ex-PM’s aide on accountability, to resolve the matter.
Akbar settled the entire case, while the Rs50 billion, which were termed a state property and belonged to the national treasury but was adjusted against housing society’s liability.
Earlier, Rana Sanaullah stated that the deal was made in return for “providing protection” to the real estate firm in a money laundering case during the PTI government.
He said a land of 458 kanal worth Rs530 million was also transferred by housing society to Al-Qadir Trust, the trustees of which are former prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse.
The agreement had the signatures of the real estate developer’s donors and Bushra Khan — the wife of former premier Imran, Sanaullah alleged.
The minister said that another 240 kanals were transferred to “Farah Shehzadi” — commonly known as Farah — a close friend of Bushra Bibi.
Sanaullah said that Imran directly plundered the public money by getting his share in Rs50 billion and provided relief to Bahria Town.
He said the impression created by [the PTI leaders] was that the land was meant for the construction of a university, but said that no charter for any varsity was approved by the Punjab Assembly.
This is a developing story, and will be updated accordingly