The Lahore High Court (LHC) on May 16 reserved the verdict on Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan's petition seeking bail in all cases registered against him in Punjab province following his arrest in a corruption case last week that sparked violent protests by his supporters.
Mr. Khan, 70, had filed the plea on Saturday, a day after being released on bail from Islamabad High Court (IHC).
At the outset of the hearing, the court inquired about the absence of Mr. Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief.
Responding to the query, Mr. Khan's lawyer said that he would appear before the court by 11 am.
The lawyer representing Punjab's interim government opposed the bail plea contending it was inadmissible.
"Imran Khan hasn't even appeared in the court and is seeking protective bail," the lawyer maintained.
At this, Mr. Khan's lawyer argued that the PTI chief was seeking pre-arrest bail and not protective bail. He requested the court to send the case to a larger bench.
"I am being politically victimised. There is a risk of arrest as police have nominated me in several cases," the plea stated.
The PTI chief has made the Punjab inspector general and advocate general respondents in the case.
Mr. Khan returned to his Lahore home on Saturday after having locked himself in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises for hours for fear of re-arrest despite being granted bail on Friday.
Meanwhile, the IHC extended Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan's bail till June 8 in two cases pertaining to inciting violence and sedition.
The IHC had granted 70-year-old Mr. Khan bail, barring the authorities from arresting him in all the cases registered beyond May 9 and asked him to approach the Lahore High Court for further relief on May 15.
In the Al Qadir Trust case, in which the National Accountability Bureau arrested the former cricketer-turned-politician on May 9, the IHC granted him pre-arrest bail for two weeks.
The Supreme Court had declared Mr. Khan’s arrest from the IHC premises illegal and referred the matter to the IHC.
The Punjab police on May 10 booked Mr. Khan and hundreds of his party workers for attacking and setting on fire the Corps Commander House in Lahore besides registering five other FIRs against him for inciting his supporters to attack and damage the state buildings and military installations.
Mr. Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others have been framed under murder, terrorism and 20 other heinous offences for attacking the senior military commander's house known as 'Jinnah House' in Lahore Cantonment last Tuesday.
The arrest of Mr. Khan on Tuesday by the Pakistan Rangers at the IHC premises triggered unrest in Pakistan that continued till Friday and led to several deaths and dozens of military and state installations being destroyed by the protesters.
For the first time in Pakistan's history, the protesters stormed the army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and also torched the corps commander's house in Lahore.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10 while Mr. Khan's party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
Punjab Inspector General Police Dr. Usman Anwar told a press conference on Sunday that over 3,500 people have been arrested in Punjab province for their involvement in the violence that erupted after Mr. Khan's arrest. He said most of them will be tried in anti-terrorism courts.
Mr. Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a U.S.-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.