An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Wednesday approved a request from police to interrogate and arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a case pertaining to the May 9 attack on the Lahore Corps Commander’s House.
The May 9 riots, triggered by the arrest of Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case, saw PTI supporters and leaders staging violent demonstrations nationwide, targeting civil and military assets. The riots, which spanned three days, triggered a massive crackdown on the party, with thousands arrested amidst vows from both the government and the military leadership that none of the culprits would be granted any leniency. While Khan maintains he had no role in the rioting, authorities have maintained he was involved in “pre-planning” the violence and have repeatedly warned he could face a military trial if his complicity is established.
In its application to the ATC, the convener of the Joint Investigation Team probing the May 9 riots—DIG (Investigation) Lahore—sought permission to interrogate and arrest Khan, who is currently serving a three-year sentence at Attock Jail after being found guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case. The former prime minister is wanted for his alleged role in a case filed on May 10 under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The court “allowed” this request, paving the way for the PTI chief to be interrogated and arrested in the case, even as he continues to serve out his prison term.
The move comes as the Supreme Court has indicated that it would order the release of Khan over his trial in the Toshakhana case being conducted “in haste,” adding it would issue “necessary” orders if the Islamabad High Court does not provide relief to the PTI chief in a case pending before it. It also follows the rejection of several pre-arrest bails of Khan due to his absence from court proceedings arising from his detention at Attock Jai.
According to local media, a Lahore police team would visit Attock Jail to interrogate and arrest Khan within this week. Multiple reports have noted that as Khan is already serving out a prison sentence, he would not be transferred out of Attock Jail, but would merely be listed as “under arrest” in relevant police records.