PM Imran Khan acquitted in 2014 Parliament attack case

ATC judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan announced the ruling today

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Cricket star-turned-politician, Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaks during a youth convention in Lahore, Pakistan, November 30, 2007. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/Files

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday acquitted Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Parliament attack case days after the ruling PTI's chief petitioned for the same.

ATC judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan, announced the ruling today.

The petition for PM Imran's acquittal was submitted by a lawyer for the federal government, with the prosecutor arguing at the last hearing that the case was made on political grounds and that it would be "a waste of the court's time".

PM Imran had informed the court through his lawyer, Abdullah Babar Awan, the son of the premier's aide, Babar Awan, that the prosecution was in favour of the acquittal.

"The prosecution has no objection if Imran Khan is acquitted," the court was told.

Others to be indicted later

The court also decided to halt proceedings against President Dr Arif Alvi owing to the PTI leader holding the presidential office.

The court, however, decided to indict others named in the case, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, and Planning Minister Asad Umar, as well as prominent party leader Aleem Khan and a former close aide of PM Imran, Jahangir Khan Tareen.

Dr Tahirul Qadri, the chief of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), has been declared fugitive in the case.

The aforementioned have been summoned at the next hearing.

It is noteworthy to mention here that the incumbent government appoints prosecution lawyers, who, during the 2014 sit-in, were being advised by the PML-N government. Now, however, that the PTI is in power, the situation has reversed.

2014 sit-in, clash

PM Imran, as well as other party leaders, including Alvi, Umar, and Qureshi, were booked by police under the Anti-Terrorism Act after being accused of attacking the Parliament House and the office of the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) during a sit-in staged by the PTI and PAT — under Dr Qadri — in Islamabad in August 2014.

The politicians had marched towards the Parliament and PM House in an attempt to topple the then PML-N government after the Model Town incident. Clashes with the authorities were reported as they made their way towards the destination.

The protest had gone on for more than 100 days.

During the sit-in, protesters beat up SSP Asmatullah Junejo at the Constitution Avenue when they attacked the PTV headquarters and parts of the Parliament. A case was then filed against PM Imran, Qadri, and others for torturing the SSP and five other police officers.

In September 2018, the ATC had granted Prime Minister Imran Khan a permanent exemption from appearing before it in the cases.

Decision to set aside case against Nawaz reserved

Separately, the ATC in the hearing today also reserved its decision on whether or not to set aside a case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, with FM Qureshi's lawyer opposing the petition.

The foreign minister had filed a case against the PML-N supremo over the death of party workers during the 2014 sit-in.

During the hearing today, the ATC judge remarked that it was not a court order, not an administrative one, and that the court heard the arguments of Qureshi's counsel, Advocate Shahid Naseem Gondal.

"We will decide next week" on the petition, the judge noted.

Advocate Gondal told the court the police had not met the legal requirements while preparing the report to set aside the case. They did not even send a notice to the plaintiff while filing it, he stated.