Published On: Fri, Mar 17th, 2023
Published in Category: Lahore

LHC Justice Tariq Saleem SheikH prohibits PTI from holding rally on Sunday at Minar-e-Pakistan

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LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh on Thursday announced that its order halting the operation at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore will remain in force till today (Friday) at 10:00 AM.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh issued the written order and at the request of the lawyers of the parties, adjourned the hearing of the case till today (Friday)

A day earlier, Justice Sheikh had restrained the police officials from continuing the Zaman Park operation till the decision of the Islamabad High Court on the non-bailable arrest warrant of the former prime minister and PTI chief.

The order by the LHC had come at a time when Islamabad Police, backed by Punjab Police and Rangers had resumed efforts— which began on Tuesday — to arrest the ex-premier in connection with the Toshkhana case. Imran has skipped indictment several times, which led to the judge issuing a non-bailable arrest warrant for him.

However, they were met with strong resistance from PTI workers, who threw stones at them. The police responded with volleys of tear gas.

After an hours-long back and forth — described by international media as “pitched battles” — the personnel pulled back to Mall Road, from where they cleared out.

Meanwhile, the LHC on Thursday restrained the PTI leadership from holding a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan citing the ongoing law and order situation

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh presided over the hearing and remarked that the current situation in the provincial capital had “tarnished the image of Pakistan across the world”.

Justice Sheikh also stated that the authorities should be conveyed at least 15 days prior if a rally procession is to be held in order to make proper security arrangements.

Meanwhile, the LHC judge also directed the PTI leadership to hold a meeting with Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab Dr. Usman Anwar and the additional chief secretary to reach a consensus over their concerns that include “implementation of the former prime minister’s non-bailable arrest warrant, security plan and imposition of Section 144”.

The court was hearing different petitions including pleas seeking a 'safe way' for Imran Khan to reach LHC, protective bails in different FIRs and to stop the “atrocities” of the police officials against the PTI chief, his political party and its leadership as well as the general public at Zaman Park.

As proceedings commenced on Thursday, Justice Sheikh inquired if the petitioner was present in court. To this, PTI counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique informed the court that he is on the way and will reach the court in a few minutes.

Irked at the remark, Justice Sheikh stated “this is how serious you people are, when this court fixed this matter for 10:00 am then you should have reached on time”.

The judge observed that neither the petitioner nor the respondent sides are fully aware of the law, adding that how can both parties reach a solution until the law is read carefully?

“Solution is there but neither of the parties is serious to go through the books,” remarked the LHC judge.

Justice Sheikh then asked PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry what the security issue is.

To this, the PTI leader replied that security has become a serious issue, adding that “there is a hundred per cent threat to Imran at Islamabad's G-8 court and the concerned authorities had been conveyed about the same”.

Advocate General Punjab Shan Gull opposed the arguments placed by the petitioner’s counsel.

Moreover, the IGP Punjab said that the force deployed at Zaman Park was without weapons but they were badly attacked by the PTI workers and petrol bombs were thrown at them.

Dr. Usman Anwar vowed that they are ready to sit with the PTI to address the issues as the police does not want any “no go area” in the provincial capital.

As the hearing was underway on Thursday, Justice Saleem said that he does not "find any issue" in the situation, but noted that neither of the parties involved in the case has read the law.

"All of these issues have arisen because the law was not read," he said, adding that today, "all of us will read the law together". He said that both sides have "jammed the system".

Justice Saleem reprimanded the PTI counsel and said that the issue is of Khan's warrants and the party keeps knocking on the doors of both IHC and LHC. "You are unaware of where you have to plead. We just have to follow the law in this case."

As Fawad entered the courtroom, the judge told him that his party was not following the law. "You [people] have pushed the nation into suffering."

At this, the PTI leader told the court that when the party chief has to appear before four courts subsequently, it becomes hard for him. "We are 100% sure about an attack on Imran Khan and that is why we had requested his presence at hearings via video link."

The judge then said that there is a proper procedure for seeking security for a person and stressed that the party should bring "itself inside the system's ambit".

The judge then slammed the party for not planning its public gathering ahead of time and said that if they wanted to hold a jalsa, then the preparations should have begun 15 days prior.

"For God's sake, let the people live their routine lives. Your rally will not take place this Sunday. Even if a person gets married, they plan ahead," he said.

The judge then asked the party leader to sit down with authorities and sort out the issue. "We are being embarrassed as a nation," the judge remarked, asking the PTI to once again reschedule its rally.

Punjab Advocate General Shan Gul then told the judge that IHC's order has also been issued. The advocate general said that there is no need for this hearing.

At this, Justice Saleem said that he has not touched the arrest warrants. "Neither the Lahore High Court nor the Islamabad High Court stopped from executing the arrest warrants." The court then adjourned the hearing till 10:00 AM today (Friday)

Later in a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said the LHC had extended the orders to stop the operation at Zaman Park until today (Friday).

“The chief secretary and inspector general of police have been instructed to sit with the leadership of the PTI and resolve these matters through mutual consultation,” he said.

Separately, Fawad Chaudhry said the PTI “was ready and had no issues” with meeting with the administration to sort out matters peacefully as per the LHC orders.

Speaking to the media outside the LHC on Thursday, the PTI leader said Justice Sheikh had “extended the relief given to Lahore’s citizens yesterday” and had directed both the city administration and the PTI to “sit together and move forward after holding discussions on the matter”.

He added, “We don’t even want to worsen matters. […] To ruin peace and order would be the last thing that the PTI would want.”

The former minister also recalled Justice Sheikh’s remarks on Imran’s security: “Thirdly, he (Justice Sheikh) has said that there definitely should be security for Imran Khan, and he has said to IG sahib to give security book and security shall be provided according to it.”

He also claimed that the government wanted to distract people’s attention from the “main issues” that plague the country and wanted to delay elections by creating bloodshed.