A Pakistani anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on Wednesday rejected the bail of former Prime Minister Imran Khan for failing to attend the court hearing of a case linked to protests outside the election commission, a ruling which could lead to his arrest.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists staged a protest after Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the prohibited funding case last year.
In October last year, Police launched a case under the anti-terrorism laws and the former premier was on interim bail in the case.
On Wednesday, Judge Raja Jawad Abbas of Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad remarked that Mr. Khan had been given enough time to appear before the court but he had failed to do so while his lawyer Babar Awan in his arguments urged the court to grant a one-time exemption from in-person appearance as Khan had not recovered from a gun attack of last year.
The judge refused to accept the plea and ordered that Khan should appear by stating that the court cannot give any relief to a “powerful person” like Khan which is not given to a common person.
Finally, the judge refused to extend the interim bail, leaving the 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician, who survived an assassination attempt in November last year, vulnerable to police arrest.
The PTI leadership had asked party workers to stage protests across the country, including near the ECP, after Khan was disqualified over hiding details of party funding.
Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barred a banking court from passing any direction on Khan’s bail plea in the Federal Investigation Agency’s prohibited funding case against the PTI.
Last year, the ECP in the funding case against the PTI ruled that the party had received prohibited funding.
Later, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a case against Khan and other party leaders as signatories/beneficiaries of the PTI account where the funds were parked.
At the previous hearing, the banking court had rejected Khan’s request for a virtual hearing and asked him to appear in person on February 15.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the court once again rejected the exemption request and instructed him to appear before the judge in person on Wednesday.
But Khan had approached the IHC with a request for virtual proceedings which in its order instructed the PTI chief to submit fresh medical reports and stopped the banking court from taking further action in the case till February 22.
Khan has been facing a raft of cases and once he jokingly remarked that the only case he was not booked so far was the “crime of dipping rusk in tea before eating them”.