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ISLAMABAD: The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), on Wednesday, extended interim bail to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, party Secretary General Asad Umar, Senator Shehzad Waseem, and other leaders in two cases registered against them under anti-terrorism charges for allegedly attacking police and creating unrest at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC), during the hearing of Toshakhana case against PTI chief Imran Khan on May 25.

The ATC judge, Raja Jawad, while hearing the case, extended the interim bail to Hammad Azhar, Ali Nawaz Awan, Murad Saeed, Shibli Faraz, Hassaan Khan Niazi, Omar Ayub Khan, Khurram Nawaz, Aamir Kiyani, Farrukh Habib, Zulfi Bukhari, Asad Qaiser, and Imran Khan’s Chief Security Officer Muhammad Asim till May 25.

At the start of the hearing, Gohar Ali Khan PTI chief’s counsel, and lawyers of other PTI leaders filed applications seeking a one-day exemption for clients from the personal appearance before the court, which the court later approved.

PTI counsel Sardar Muhammad Maroof told the court that the PTI leaders Asad Umar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and others have already been arrested by police under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).

On this, the judge told PTI’s counsel to provide the list of PTI’s leaders who are currently under the custody of the police.

The prosecutor, Adnan Ali told the court that the accused is repeating the same crime even after obtaining bail before arrest. The judge said that no one offers his arrest willingly.

The PTI counsel further told the court that the PTI leaders who are currently in Lahore and cannot appear before the court.

The prosecutor said that it would have been better if Imran Khan have been indicted online. The judge remarked that if such a situation emerged before ATC then the charge against Khan would be framed online. The facility to indict any accused online is available in ATC, the judge said.

Another PTI counsel Sher Afzal told the court that police arrest PTI leaders who come to court. Police tried to arrest PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry even after getting bail from Islamabad High Court (IHC), he said. He requested the court to approve the exemption applications of all the PTI’s leaders. The court took a break and sought arguments from both parties on PTI leader’s exemption applications.

After the break, the court asked the defence counsel about the PTI’s leader Asad Qaiser and said that he has not been arrested by police. Sher Afzal PTI leaders’ counsel said that if the court provides security and guarantees that Qaiser will not be arrested then he will appear before it.

To this, the judge remarked that if the protection orders of the IHC have been accepted then the ATC is a lower court. The judge remarked that the court should be informed under what law exemption applications of Qaiser and other PTI leaders could be accepted.

He lawyer requested the court to extend the interim bail for four to five days as the political situation may cool down in the next few days. What is the guarantee that conditions will cool down for four or five days, the judge asked.

The counsel said that if the political situation did not cool down then more PTI leaders are ready to go to jail.

Imran Khan’s counsel Gohar Ali Khan told the court that police arrest PTI’s leader when they come to court and also register more cases against them. Did you think that the situation will improve till the next hearing, the judge questioned Gohar Ali Khan. Hopefully, the situation will improve, Khan’s counsel Gohar Ali Khan replied.

The judge told the PTI’s counsel to submit an undertaking that you will present final arguments during the next hearing of the case. The judge also remarked that the courts sitting here for justice and they did not want anyone to be arrested and handed over to the police.

Prosecutor Adnan Ali while opposing PTI leader’s exemption applications argued that PTI leaders have always used different tactics to delay the case. What guarantee you will give that the accused, who will to come court, will not be arrested, the judge asked the prosecutor. The judge again told that the prosecutor you have been asked that will you give an undertaking that the accused, who will come to court, will not be arrested. Instead of submitting his reply, you have become emotional, the judge further said.

The prosecutor told the court that there are judgments of the apex court that made the appearance of the accused mandatory before every court. The judge asked the prosecutor to provide copies of the judgment of the apex court before it.

The court approved PTI leader’s applications and extended interim bail till May 25.

The court also directed PTI leaders to ensure their attendance and submit final arguments on the confirmation of bail at the next hearing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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