Amid the clashes between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supporters and police outside the court complex in Islamabad, a judge on Saturday cancelled former Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s arrest warrants in the Toshakhana corruption case and allowed him to go home without indicting him, as reported by the news agency PTI.
Khan arrived at the Islamabad Judicial Complex from Lahore to appear before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal to attend proceedings on a complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his assets declarations.
Judge Iqbal after waiting for hours for the 70-year-old chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to reach the court agreed with the suggestion by his lawyer to get the signature of the former premier on the attendance sheet in his vehicle to comply with the court orders of in-person presence.
The judge allowed Imran Khan to go back to Lahore after marking his attendance outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex where he was set to be indicted in the Toshakhana case.
“The situation as it is, the hearing and appearance cannot proceed that is why all those who have gathered here should disperse after marking attendance. There is no need for shelling or pelting, the hearing cannot be held today,” the judge was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper. The Judge also cancelled the arrest warrants issued against Khan in the Toshakhana case and adjourned the hearing till March 30 due to the chaos after the clashes between police and PTI workers.
The people inside the courtroom were facing difficulties due to the effects of the teargas while PTI party workers pelted stones at the court complex. Senior PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed to the media that all legal formalities regarding Khan’s appearance in the court had been fulfilled and he was leaving the premises. Thus, Khan went away without his indictment in the case, as reported by the news agency PTI.
Khan earlier reached the court premises but his efforts to reach the courtroom were thwarted due to the deteriorating law and order situation. Earlier, clashes erupted between security forces and Khan’s supporters outside the judicial complex ahead of his appearance before the court.
Islamabad police chief Akbar Nasir Khan told the media that Khan’s supporters resorted to violence, pelted stones at the police and also set on fire a police picket. “Our force is tackling the situation with patience,” he said, as quoted by PTI. He further said that Khan was just five minutes away from driving to the court. Stringent security measures were implemented outside the judicial complex in Islamabad’s G-11, where Khan appeared.
A large contingent of police was deployed to the area to provide security for Khan. He arrived in Islamabad from Lahore to appear before the court. He was accompanied by his supporters in a convoy. At least three vehicles in his convoy also met with an accident near the Kalar Kahar area on the M-2 motorway but no casualties were reported.
According to PTI, Khan appeared before Lahore High Court on Friday and assured that he was ready to present himself on Saturday before Judge Iqbal handling the corruption case against him. He has been in the dock for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch, he received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
The cricketer-turned-politician was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in October last year for not sharing details of the sales, PTI reported. The top electoral body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.
Khan’s Lahore residence remained a battlefield between his party workers and police and Rangers for two days earlier this week over his “arrest operation” in the case. The PTI workers, however, succeeded in foiling his arrest attempt and the operation was halted on the Lahore High Court’s order earlier this week.