- Neither LHC nor IHC stopped execution of Khan’s warrants, court says.
- All of these issues have arisen because the law was not read: LHC.
- “For God’s sake, let the people live their routine lives,” court adds.
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday stopped the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from holding a rally this Sunday at Iqbal Park (Minar-e-Pakistan) and asked the party to let citizens live their routine lives.
The party was planning to hold a “historic” public rally at Lahore’s Minar-e-Pakistan on March 19 and PTI Chairman Imran Khan was set to lead it — despite “security threats”.
PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry had moved the high court a day earlier seeking to stop the police operation in the Zaman Park area. The police had taken action to arrest Khan in the Toshakhana case as per court orders.
After an initial hearing, the high court had ordered police to suspend the operation till 10am today — which helped calm the situation at the former prime minister’s residence which had turned into a battleground.
But today, when Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh resumed the hearing, he noted that neither the LHC nor the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had stopped the law enforcers from executing the deposed prime minister’s arrest warrants.
PTI workers clashed for nearly 24 hours with the law enforcers trying to get through the party supporters and arrest Khan, who was voted out as the prime minister last April.
Scores of people — mostly police personnel — were injured in the process as the law enforcers fired teargas and party supporters resorted to throwing Molotov cocktails.
Legal proceedings against Khan began after he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote early last year. Since then, he has held nationwide protest rallies demanding a snap election, during one of which he was shot and wounded.
As the hearing was underway, Justice Saleem said that he does not “find any issue” in the situation, but noted that neither of the parties involved in the case has read the law.
“All of these issues have arisen because the law was not read,” he said, adding that today, “all of us will read the law together”. He said that both sides have “jammed the system”.
Justice Saleem reprimanded the PTI counsel and said that the issue is of Khan’s warrants and the party keeps knocking on the doors of both IHC and LHC. “You are unaware of where you have to plead. We just have to follow the law in this case.”
As Fawad entered the courtroom, the judge told him that his party was not following the law. “You [people] have pushed the nation into suffering.”
At this, the PTI leader told the court that when the party chief has to appear before four courts subsequently, it becomes hard for him. “We are 100% sure about an attack on Imran Khan and that is why we had requested his presence at hearings via video link.”
The judge then said that there is a proper procedure for seeking security for a person and stressed that the party should bring “itself inside the system’s ambit”.
The judge then slammed the party for not planning its public gathering ahead of time and said that if they wanted to hold a jalsa, then the preparations should have begun 15 days prior.
“For God’s sake, let the people live their routine lives. Your rally will not take place this Sunday. Even if a person gets married, they plan ahead,” he said.
The judge then asked the party leader to sit down with authorities and sort out the issue. “We are being embarrassed as a nation,” the judge remarked, asking the PTI to once again reschedule its rally.
Punjab Advocate General Shan Gul then told the judge that IHC’s order has also been issued. The advocate general said that there is no need for this hearing.
At this, Justice Saleem said that he has not touched the arrest warrants. “Neither the Lahore High Court nor the Islamabad High Court stopped from executing the arrest warrants.”
The court then adjourned the hearing till 11am tomorrow.