Two separate Islamabad courts on Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, directing police to produce him in court at the next hearing.
The PTI chief was set to appear in court for two cases today—the Toshakhana reference and a case related to threats to a woman judge—but opted to skip both hearings in favor of leading a political rally in Lahore. In the first case, related to him threatening Judge Zeba Chaudhry during a public rally, the sessions court rejected Khan’s appeal for an exemption from personal appearance.
Citing security concerns, Khan’s lawyer had sought his exemption and requested permission to appear via video-link, arguing that “not appearing” in court was not the same as “not willing to appear.” However, Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim had rejected this plea, saying if Khan did not appear in court, a non-bailable arrest warrant would be issued to ensure his appearance in the next hearing. The case was then briefly adjourned to allow Khan some time to appear. After the hearing resumed, the PTI chief once more failed to appear, prompting the judge to issue a three-page reserved verdict directing police to produce the PTI chief during the next proceedings on March 29.
In the Toshakhana case, a district and sessions court restored a non-bailable arrest warrant that had been suspended by the Islamabad High Court until March 13. During the hearing, Khan’s lawyers sought another exemption from personal appearance for the PTI chief, citing security concerns. They also sought a request for Khan to be discharged from the case, arguing that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s petition was “not maintenable.” Claiming the complaint was not filed by the ECP, but rather a district election commissioner, they also claimed any complaint against corrupt practice and criminal proceedings could only be lodged within 120 days and had been filed after three years in this case.
Rejecting the PTI’s plea, Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal restored the suspended warrant, and directed police to ensure Khan was presented before the court on March 18. Khan has been avoiding the Toshakhana court for several months, delaying his indictment, which is necessary for the trial to proceed.
According to local media, a team of the Islamabad Police has already been dispatched to Lahore to secure the arrest of Khan and produce him in court during the next hearing on March 13. It is, however, unclear when authorities would enforce the warrant, as previous attempts to detain the PTI chief have been met with resistance from his supporters, prompting police to return from Zaman Park without accomplishing their goal.