An Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore on Tuesday indicted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Senator Ejaz Chaudhry and Rubina Jamil in a case pertaining to alleged vandalism of police vehicles and assault on law enforcers during the May 9 riots.
On May 9, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case, with the party retaliating with violent protests, including attacks on civil and military assets such as the Lahore Corps Commander’s House and the Shadman Police Station. Following two days of rioting, authorities launched a crackdown against the party, detaining thousands of leaders, workers and supporters, with hundreds still facing court proceedings on terrorism charges. Additionally, many of the accused are facing charges of attempting to incite mutiny, issuing statements conducing to public mischief, and promoting enmity between different groups.
The crackdown persists to a lesser degree, with the PTI regularly condemning authorities’ denial of permission to stage rallies, and demanding it be provided a “level-playing field” ahead of elections due on Feb. 8, 2024. Khan, currently incarcerated at Adiala Jail as an under-trial prisoner in the cipher case and already disqualified after a conviction in the Toshakhana case, is also unable to lead the party’s election campaign.
In today’s hearing, all three accused pleaded not guilty to all charges, with Judge Abhar Gul issuing summons for witnesses to record their testimonies and adjourning proceedings until Dec. 16. Copies of the challan against the accused were already distributed to them during the last hearing.
A day earlier, Rashid and former Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema were arrested in a new case registered against them in the attack on the Prime Minister’s House in Lahore. Meanwhile, Jamil’s judicial remand was extended last week after the Lahore High Court granted her post-arrest bail in a case pertaining to an attack on the security squad of a sitting Supreme Court judge during the May 9 riots.