Imran Khan produced before special court; Anti-corruption watchdog seeks 14-day physical remand

Islamabad: Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog on Wednesday sought a 14-day physical remand of former prime minister Imran Khan as he was produced before a special court inside a high security police facility here for the hearing in a corruption case in which he has been arrested.

The 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician was taken into custody by the paramilitary Rangers on Tuesday on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by barging into a room of the Islamabad High Court where he came to attend a corruption case hearing.

The New Police Guest House located in the premises of Police Lines Headquarters at Sector H-11/1 area of Islamabad was declared as a court for the purpose of hearing two cases against Khan.

The first case is about Al-Qadir Trust allegedly causing more than Rs50 billion to the national exchequer. Khan was arrested on Tuesday in the case.

He was produced in the Anti-Accountability Court No. 1 presided by judge Muhammad Bashir, the same judge who had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam in a corruption case of having properties in London. Maryam was later on set free in the case by the Islamabad High Court.

However, Sharif’s case is still pending in the high court as he failed to appear before the court.

At the start of the hearing, the NAB lawyers requested the court to grant a 14-day remand of Khan to probe against him the allegation. But Khan’s lawyer opposed the plea and asked the judge to release him as the charges were fabricated.

The judge took a break after the initial hearing and was expected to give his ruling once the hearing would restart.

Khan would also be presented in the District and Sessions Court where judge Humayun Dilawar would preside over the process. The case is about concealing the proceeds from the sale of state gifts and it was filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan last year.

Elaborate security measures were put in place to stop PTI workers and supporters getting anywhere near the hearing facility. Even the media was not allowed to enter the area and even leading PTI leaders were barred from witnessing the hearing or meeting their leader.

Those not allowed to enter include PTI Senior Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Secretary General Asad Umar. The two in protest went to the Islamabad High Court to file a plea against the police decision to stop them from seeing Khan.

However, before any legal process was launched, Umar was arrested by the anti-terrorism squad of Islamabad police as two new cases have been launched against him for the violence by the PTI protests after the arrest of Khan.

Earlier, Qureshi told the media while on his way to the Police Lines that protests were expected after the arrest but he called on the people to remain peaceful. “Peaceful protest is your constitutional right, keep it going. But don’t take the law into your own hands,” he said.

He said that since Tuesday he had been calling on protesters to remain peaceful. He said that he had told the party supporters that the government was looking for excuses to register fake cases against them. “They are looking for excuses to pressure you. Don’t give them the chance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that internet services across the country will remain suspended for an indefinite period. It confirmed that the decision to block mobile broadband services was taken on the directives of the Interior Ministry.

The services were shut down as protests erupted after Khan’s arrest.