Pakistan: The ex-PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Friday breathed a sigh of relief, however, temporarily, as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted him protective bail for two weeks in the Al-Qadir case on Friday. Following the massive protest across the country, the Islamabad HC today also barred the authorities from arresting Khan in any case registered anywhere in the country after May 9. The significant order of the high court comes after the Supreme Court termed Khan's dramatic arrest from the IHC premises on Tuesday as “invalid and unlawful”.
70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief was granted relief by the three different benches of the IHC. Khan was escorted to the court amid tight security.
While hearing the first case, a bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz granted Imran Khan protective bail in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case for two weeks.
Khan left IHC
After police ensured a safe passage, PTI chief Imran Khan left the Islamabad High Court. The 70-year-old leader is being transported in a security cavalcade to his Lahore residence which is located at Zaman Park.
Khan had filed a petition seeking details of all cases
He was also granted bail in all cases filed against him from May 9, while the IHC was hearing another petition. Khan had filed a petition seeking details of all cases filed against him with the request for bail. A division bench presided over the hearing held in courtroom No. 2 of the IHC.
After hearing the arguments from the lawyers, the court gave Khan protective bail until May 17 in all cases filed after his arrest on Tuesday when he was present in the court. Khan, in his petition, had asked the court that he was not aware of the violence but cases had been registered. While granting bail, the judge remarked that he should condemn all the incidents of violence in the wake of his arrest.
Foolproof security to be provided to Khan
The bench also ordered the authorities to provide foolproof security to Khan. In another case, IHC judge Justice Tariq Mehmood Jehangiri conducted the hearing in the Zile Shah murder case and after arguments, the court accepted Khan's protective bail in the case till May 22.
Shah was a PTI supporter and was killed in violence in March when police raided Khan’s Lahore residence to arrest him. The bench also ruled that Khan should not be arrested in any case until Monday, a kind of blanket protection in all cases. He was asked to appear before the Lahore High Court on Monday.
Khan had been given "blanket bail"
Khan’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen told the media that the former premier had been given "blanket bail" in all cases filed after May 9. “Khan can be arrested in any case registered anywhere till Monday when he will appear before the Lahore High Court to get bail in relevant cases,” he said.
Responding to the court verdict, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the government would honour the court orders and not arrest Khan in the cases he had secured bail from the court. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday announced that it will hold countrywide rallies in major cities across Pakistan to protest Khan's release.
It has been directed by the party's London-based supremo Nawaz Sharif, who has called on the PML-N leadership to mobilise its supporters for the protests, Samaa TV reported. The IHC's decision to grant Khan a two-week reprieve from arrest came hours after he warned of countrywide unrest if he was arrested again.
Khan was escorted with tight security
Khan arrived at the court amid tight security and underwent the biometric identification process and other formalities. The hearing was delayed for nearly two hours due to security reasons. Earlier, the two judges left the courtroom amid pro-Khan slogan-shouting by a lawyer. The upset judges later announced that the hearing will resume after Friday prayers.
70-year-old leader was arrested in Al-Qadir Trust case
Khan was arrested after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) issued an arrest warrant against him. The Al-Qadir Trust corruption case is about the setting up of Al-Qadir University for Sufism in the 2019 Sohawa area of Jhelum district of Punjab. Khan is accused of looting Rs 50 billion from the national treasury in the case. The former prime minister, along with his wife Bushra Bibi and other PTI leaders, is facing a NAB inquiry related to a settlement between the PTI government and a property tycoon.
Khan's arrest by paramilitary Rangers sparked widespread protests across Pakistan, prompting the deployment of the Army here as well as in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. The violent protests left at least eight people dead.
Khan's reaction on his arrest
In an informal interaction with journalists during the hearing break, Khan said that he will not resist if his bail plea is rejected. Khan maintained that he was "abducted" and was shown the warrant for his arrest while in custody. "This is the law of the jungle. It looks as if martial law has been declared," said the former premier," he said.
He was assaulted
The PTI chief said he was assaulted with a baton but maintained that NAB's "behaviour was fine" during his detention. Khan said he was inside the premises of the IHC when he was arrested and "they had no justification" for the act. The PTI chief did not respond to a question about his experience of being arrested.
Terming his arrest “abduction”, he said that the warrant was shown to him after he was taken to the jail. Speaking to media persons during the hearing break, Khan’s lawyer Babar Awan clarified that the lawyers who started chanting slogans were not related to PTI.
"Khan's life is in danger"
Awan, talking with the media outside the IHC, said that the PTI chief's "life is in danger". He maintained that there are certain people who fear that if Khan is released, their jobs will be at risk. "That is why Punjab Police has come from Lahore," he added. Separately, Khan’s supporters clashed with police which stopped them from going anywhere near the IHC building.
Pak PM called him 'Ladla'
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday questioned the Supreme Court's granting of relief to its "ladla" Imran Khan, saying its "double standards" have led to the death of justice in Pakistan. “When he (Imran) was presented in court yesterday, the CJP said it is good to see you. And, he said this in a case of corruption,” he said. “If you want to keep favouring this ladla (pampered), then you should also release all the dacoits behind bars in the country. Let this be free for all,” he said while addressing the federal Cabinet on Friday.
Describing Khan and his party as "liars", Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday slammed the Opposition for pushing the cash-strapped country towards "destruction". Khan is facing over 120 cases across the country, including for allegedly committing treason and blasphemy and inciting violence and terrorism.
He was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan. He is the only Pakistani prime minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
(with inputs from PTI)