Friday, November 18, 2022

IHC says intelligence suspects another bid on Imran Khan's life

IHC CJ Farooq tells administration to ensure roads are not blocked, PTI provided venue for sit-in

Photo shows the facade of the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File
Photo shows the facade of the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File
  • Court asks PTI to resubmit petition to seek NOC.
  • IHC says old petition has become ineffective.
  • Police submit intelligence report. 

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked Friday that as per intelligence reports submitted by the police, there are fears of another attack on PTI Chairman Imran Khan — who survived an assassination attempt earlier this month.

A gunman opened fire on the PTI chief in Wazirabad on November 3 during the party's long march, wherein he sustained multiple gunshot injuries and is now recovering at his house in Lahore's Zaman Park society — but addressing the marchers regularly.

The IHC CJ's remarks came during the hearing of two merged petitions — PTI's plea seeking a no-objection certificate (NOC) for a protest sit-in in Islamabad and traders' petition for ensuring the citizens' rights to access the roads during the prolonged political demonstrations.

During the hearing, the police presented a report before the court saying that recently analysed chatter suggests there is a possibility of another bid on the life of PTI Chairman Imran Khan during the protest, which Khan plans to join after recovering from his injuries.

The CJ said it was the government's responsibility to address this issue related to Khan's security.

Justice Farooq further said the PTI would have to move the court again through a new petition as the one being heard had become ineffective.

He said the administration should take a decision on PTI's request in accordance with the law and ensure that roads are not blocked while determining the venue of the rally, ensuring both the political party's right to protest and the fundamental rights of citizens. 

As PTI counsel Babar Awan did not appear before the court, his assistant informed the CJ that the petitioner, Ali Nawaz Awan, was not available to attend the hearing and prayed to the court to adjourn the case.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Duggal told the court that the petition was filed on November 3 and had already become ineffective.

Advocate General Jehangir Jadoon said there was no knowing when would they (petitioners) be in Islamabad.

Justice Farooq remarked that the cause of action on which this petition was based did not exist anymore. Responding to the Judge, the PTI lawyer said they would file a new application today.

“The court cannot suggest a place for the protest. It is for the capital city’s administration to decide if it wants the PTI to pitch their protest camp at D-Chowk or F-9 Park," Justice Farooq said. 

He added that the code of conduct for the protest demonstration could only be agreed upon with the administration.

Addressing the PTI lawyer, the IHC CJ said: "You (PTI) blocked the GT Road, the motorway, and other important highways . You should also have shown some responsibility."

Giving his eyewitness account of the PTI's blockade of the motorway, Deputy Attorney General Fazlur Rehman said he saw a group of around ten protesters led by Zulfi Bukhari sitting in the middle of the motorway.

To which, Justice Farooq forbade him from mentioning any names.

The court later adjourned the case till November 22.

The PTI filed a petition with the IHC on October 31, to seek permission to rally and stage a sit-in and to urge the government for providing security to marchers.

The petition, filed by PTI leader Ali Nawaz Awan, mentions that the party has held several public rallies, seminars, corner meetings, public gatherings, and conventions. It stated that PTI was a peaceful party and does not believe in confrontation with state institutions.

It, therefore, sought the court's permission to gather the marchers in the capital city and hold a sit-in on Sri Nagar Highway between H-9 and G-9 area and near the Weekly Bazar — which falls under the deputy commissioner's administrative control — following the Supreme Court of Pakistan's decision.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed a plea seeking to stop PTI's long march, terming the petition infructuous.

"Prima facie, the court's interference on the issue would be premature [...] court will exercise judicial restraint in such political matters," Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said as he heard the case while presiding over a three-member bench — including Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ayesha Malik.

JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza had moved the court last week, seeking to stop the long march, but the SC told him that if the law and order situation worsens, he could file a fresh plea.