A special bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday briefly adjourned the hearing on Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan bail plea in a graft case amid slogan shouting by a lawyer in the courtroom, according to media reports.
Khan, 70, arrived at the court shortly after 11:30 am local time amid tight security and underwent the biometric identification process and other formalities.
A special division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, took up the ex-premier’s bail plea. The hearing was delayed for nearly two hours due to security reasons, media reported.
According to the Geo News, the two judges left the courtroom amid slogan shouting by a lawyer. The upset judges later announced that the hearing will resume after Friday prayers.
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Dawn News reported that Imran’s lawyers had filed four additional requests which urged the IHC to club all the cases against Imran and to direct authorities to provide details of the cases registered against him.
Khan was arrested from the premises of the IHC on Tuesday in the Al-Qadir Trust case after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) issued an arrest warrant against him.
His 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 IHC upheld his arrest but a three-member Supreme Court bench on Thursday declared his detention “illegal” and ordered his immediate release. The apex court directed police to keep him in the Supreme Court’s protection and produce him before the high court at 11 am.
Footage aired on the television showed a large number of police and Rangers officials deployed outside the court premises and barbed wire placed in front of the gate.
Footage from outside the IHC also showed many lawyers shouting slogans expressing solidarity with him.
Meanwhile, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in a message asked his followers to reach at 10 am to the G-13 area, which is not far away from the IHC, implying that the party leader intends to make a speech.
Islamabad police late on Thursday issued a statement saying that Section 144, which bans public gatherings, was still imposed in the capital and requested political workers not to “obstruct the legal process”.
“We request those giving calls for protests in Islamabad tomorrow not to cause disturbance of peace,” it said in a tweet, adding that legal action would be taken against those inciting the public.
The Supreme Court also ordered the Islamabad Police to make proper arrangements for the security of the former premier.
On Friday, two senior leaders of Khan’s party – including former federal minister Shireen Mazari – were arrested.
Imaan Hazir-Mazari, the daughter of Mazari and a lawyer, shared a video on Twitter that appeared to show plainclothes men forcefully entering her home to arrest the former minister.
Her arrest comes after a series of arrests of several other top PTI leaders, including Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ali Mohammad Khan, and Senator Ejaz Chaudhry.
All of these leaders other than Khan were arrested under section three of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).
According to Khan’s party, former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has also been arrested.
Khan has urged his followers to remain peaceful after two-days of massive violence that witnessed vandalism, arson and bloodshed, stoking concerns about a civil war in the country.
After the apex court intervention in the arrest case, a semblance of calm was restored in the country but permanent peace depends on the ultimate fate of Khan who faces scores of cases and runs from one court to another to secure bails.