The counsel for incarcerated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to annul the contempt cases against his client, maintaining the former prime minister will not attack the electoral watchdog in public rallies in future.
Last year, the ECP issued contempt notices to the PTI chief as well as other members of the party for allegedly using inappropriate language against the chief election commissioner and the electoral body in various public meetings and media interactions. Proceedings into the case were delayed after Khan and former party leaders Asad Umar and Chaudhry Fawad Hussain challenged the ECP’s authority to punish them for contempt.
In January, however, the Supreme Court permitted the ECP to proceed with the case, with the electoral body deciding to frame charges against them in June. In July, arrest warrants were issued for Fawad and Khan over non-appearance before the commission. Last month, the ECP announced it would indict the trio, but could not proceed as Khan’s incarceration has prevented him from being produced before it. In a bid to advance the long-pending case, the ECP last week issued production orders for Khan, announcing he would be indicted on Oct. 24.
A four-member bench, headed by ECP Member (Sindh) Nisar Ahmad Durrani resumed hearings into the case on Tuesday, with the Additional IG Operations Punjab informing them of security concerns if Khan were moved from Adiala Jail to the ECP premises. ECP Secretary Umar Hameed validated this, informing the bench that both the Interior Ministry and Police had voiced similar concerns of threats to Khan’s life.
The official advised the ECP bench to conduct the PTI chief’s hearing at Adiala Jail. “In view of the security concerns to the ECP, the body can seek paramilitary force from the interior ministry,” he added.
Expressing annoyance over the failure to implement the production orders, the bench raised concerns over the Interior Ministry’s capabilities, questioning how it could ensure security for elections if it couldn’t even ensure the safety of a single individual. “How can the ministry order the commission [to conduct trial at Adiala Jail]? The interior secretary should appear himself,” the ECP observed and adjourned the hearing until Nov. 13 after issuing notice to him.
Khan’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen—also a spokesman for the PTI—urged the ECP to drop the contempt case entirely, vowing his client would not target the electoral watchdog in future. In response, a member of the commission said this would require a written apology from his client. Shaheen replied that he would consult with his client and requested that the case be deferred until after general elections due for January, further delaying the proceedings.