The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday instructed Punjab Inspector General of Police Faisal Shahkar to register a first information report (FIR) on the attempted assassination of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan within 24 hours, assuring him of its support during the investigation.
Hearing a contempt of court petition filed against Khan by the ruling coalition over his long march to Islamabad, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial questioned whether an FIR had been registered thus far. When he was told it had not, he noted that over 90 hours had passed since the shooting and ongoing delays to the registration of the FIR would hamper the police investigation.
“If the police do not investigate, evidence at the crime scene might be destroyed,” he said. “Such evidence would be controversial and would be unacceptable in court,” he added.
The IGP, representing the Punjab Police, was then summoned to the rostrum and directed to register the FIR and inform the court about it. “We have seen your resignation,” the CJP said. “The court assures you that no one will intervene in actions taken by you as per the law,” he said, adding that an “honest” officer should be assigned to probe last week’s shooting on the long march that killed one PTI supporter and left several party leaders, including Khan, injured.
The IGP then clarified that while police were willing to register the FIR, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi had objected to it. “The registration of the case has some political angles to it but the police also have authority,” said Shahkar.
Assuring the IGP of the court’s full support, the CJP warned that the apex court would be forced to take suo moto notice of the attempted assassination in case of any further delays. “The chief minister’s objections cannot stop the police from registering the case,” he stressed.
Reacting to the SC’s directives, PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said it was the “first step” toward justice. “Justice will prevail,” he added in a posting on Twitter.
The court also heard PTI Senator Azam Swati during the proceedings and assured him that his case was being examined by the Human Rights Cell. “The court is careful in this matter, the case will be seen according to law,” said the CJP, clarifying that Swati’s assertion of having been allegedly recorded while staying at the Supreme Court’s rest house in Quetta was wrong.
“Yes, you are right,” Swati said, admitting to his mistake. “I stayed in Quetta federal loges,” he added.
The chief justice also confirmed that the Human Rights Cell was investigating a letter seeking justice sent to him by slain journalist Arshad Sharif’s mother. He said the court would determine what, if any, assistance it could offer once it had been provide the fact-finding commission’s report on the murder.
The court granted Khan an additional week to submit his reply on the contempt plea, relating to his party violating orders by entering the high-security Red Zone in Islamabad during its previous long march on May 25.