Islamabad lockdown plan
Islamabad—Anti-Terrorism Court’s order on Friday may serve as a breather for the government as the court directed the police to implement its orders with regard to the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief Tahirul Qadri in the Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters attack case. The government which is under immense pressure to deal with dharnawalas with an iron hand may jump at the moment by ‘complying’ with the court’s orders.
ATC judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi while hearing the case inquired of the police why they had not been able to submit an implementation report on the court’s arrest orders.
Expressing his displeasure over the police’s failure to submit the implementation report, the judge directed authorities to carry out the arrests of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and 68 others by Nov 17 and present them in court on the said date.
They were booked after a mob of protesters belonging to the PTI and PAT stormed PTV headquarters and forced its staff to take two of the state broadcaster’s flagship channels — PTV News and PTV World — off the air on Sept 1, 2014.
On September 20 this year, while hearing case of torture on SSP Asmatullah Junejo the court had directed the city police chief SSP Sajid Kiani to personally ensure Khan’s arrest and that of his counterpart of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Allama Dr Tahirul Qadri and produce them in the court on the next date of hearing.
ATC judge had earlier this year issued their non-bailable arrest warrants for their continuous absence from the court. The court had also directed Deputy Superintendent of Police Secretariat Circle to ensure execution of arrest warrants and produce the accused before the court on the last date of hearing but it could not be done. The judge on Tuesday expressed his dissatisfaction over the reply by the SHO Secretariat Police who submitted that the accused was nowhere to be found and security guards at his residence in Banni Gala also did not know about his whereabouts. “The accused is holding rallies and public meetings across the country and you say you cannot find him,” the judge said expressing his surprise over the reply. He remarked that SSP of Islamabad Police Sajid Kiani will be directed to recover the accused as their non-bailable arrest warrants were still valid. Later, the court had directed SSP Sajid Kiani to arrest both the accused by October 11 and present them in the court on that date adjourned hearing till that date.
It may be mentioned that SSP Asmat Junejo and other policemen had sustained injuries when a crowd of protesters participating in the sit-in protest by PTI and PAT in 2014, beat them up. The protesters used sticks and batons when they thrashed SSP Asmat Junejo and others. In attack on PTV case, this was the first time that PTV’s transmission had gone off air since October 12, 1999, of Gen Musharraf coup.
The protesters were also charged with attacking government properties including the Parliament House building. The incidents took place during the 2014 sit-ins staged by PTI and PAT members and supporters, with both parties calling on Prime Minister Nawaz to step down. Imran Khan and the federal government have been locking horns over the Panama Papers leaks and Friday’s hearing comes at the heels of PTI’s planned siege of the capital city on Nov 2, that aims at ramping up pressure on the government to take concrete measures to address the party’s concerns over Panama Papers.