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SC Grants Imran Khan Time to Respond to Interior Ministry’s Evidence

Apex court says it is not issuing any orders, as it exercises restraint over powers related to contempt

by Staff Report

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The Supreme Court on Friday gave Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan until next week to submit a reply on evidence submitted by the Interior Ministry over unrest in Islamabad during his May 25 long march.

During proceedings, the Interior Ministry submitted video and documentary evidence that raised questions over Khan’s previously submitted claims that he had been unaware of court orders when he directed his supporters to converge on D-Chowk rather than the H9 Ground that had been designated for the PTI’s protest. Heading a five-member bench, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the court was exercising restraint in using powers related to contempt. “We are not issuing any order at the moment,” he said, adding he hoped the reply already submitted by the ousted prime minister was based on facts.

In his reply, the PTI chief had said he was unaware of the apex court’s orders of May 25 and did not disobey them deliberately. “We regret taking this step unintentionally,” he said, blaming the federal and Punjab governments for causing chaos in the federal capital.

Submitting his evidence, the Interior Ministry’s lawyer said it proved the PTI’s long march had intended to reach D-Chowk on May 25. He said it also proved that mobile services had not been blocked, as claimed by Khan and his lawyers, with PTI leaders using social media from atop the container throughout the march from Peshawar.

“You have presented an argument that the court order was spread in the country through media and social media,” the CJP said to the ministry’s counsel, noting Khan had announced he would go to D-Chowk 40 minutes after the court order had been issued.

Justice Mazahar Naqvi, meanwhile, questioned what the call detail record would reveal if Khan’s mobile phone had not been with him on May 25. To this, the ministry’s counsel said the data would reveal the location where the phone had been operated from. “If the court deems it appropriate, it should obtain CDR,” he said, adding that submitted videos and photos clearly show Khan’s phone in his hand.

Directing the Interior Ministry to ensure all its submitted evidence had been provided to Khan, Babar Awan and Faisal Chaudhry, the court then adjourned the hearing till next week.

On Oct. 13, the federal government filed a contempt of court plea against Khan in the Supreme Court over his party’s ongoing long march to Islamabad. In its petition, the government argued that the PTI chief’s announcements were in violation of court orders, as he was threatening to “attack” the federal capital. It has urged the top court to direct the PTI chief to ensure the implementation of its orders related to protests and sit-ins.

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