The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday granted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan protective bail in two terrorism cases until March 27 and in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases until March 31.
The terrorism cases against Khan were both registered over his alleged incitement of party workers in attacking police and creating unrest outside the Judicial Complex in Islamabad on March 18, when the PTI chief was to attend proceedings in the Toshakhana case against him. His plea for protective bail was heard by a two-member bench comprising Justices Shehbaz Rizvi and Farooq Haider.
Separately, a two-member bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi heard Khan’s petition seeking protective bail in two cases filed by NAB against him. During the hearing, Khan lamented that he was unable to distribute party tickets because he was busy attending court. “About 100 FIRs have been filed against me in a single month,” he claimed before being granted bail for 10 days.
According to local media, Khan reached the LHC at around 1 p.m.—largely free of the mobs that have accompanied him on earlier court proceedings. He was escorted inside the court amidst stringent security precautions, including a protective cordon of his security guards.
Immediately upon reaching the LHC, the PTI chief appeared before Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh for a hearing on his party seeking contempt of court over the police operation at his Zaman Park residence on March 18. During proceedings, Justice Sheikh was informed by Khan that his wife, Bushra Bibi, had been alone at Zaman Park when police broke down the entry gate and started their search operation. He said that this had happened while he was in Islamabad, adding that his wife was not visible on any footage, but her voice could be heard in the background.
“I secretly reached the court today … I came in a car that no one knows about, without any convoy,” he said, claiming the government’s actions suggested there was no rule of law in Pakistan. The judge then directed the government’s lawyer to compile information on the Zaman Park operation and appear in court. “I will initiate contempt proceedings against all those who are sitting in the media and making a joke of the judiciary,” he said, warning that action would be taken if the respondents did not respect the court. “We have to work as per the law, we only listen to what the law says,” he said.
In a separate petition filed by the PTI seeking a record of all cases against Khan, Justice Sheikh was informed by Punjab police that there were six cases registered against him in the province—three at Lahore’s Race Course Police Station, and one each at Sarwar Road Police Station; Rawalpindi’s New Airport Police Station; and Faisalabad’s Madina Town Police Station. The judge directed police to submit details of all cases against Khan, including those registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), remarking authorities could use WhatsApp to get all required information “within a minute.”
Adjourning proceedings, he instructed the government’s lawyer to collect all details within two days and “also give relief” to the petitioner. ““It is not possible that you delay the hearing and not give relief too,” he said.