News Analysis |
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) has acquitted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan in the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Asmatullah Junejo attack case. Imran was accused of playing a part in the torture of SSP during the 2014 sit-in.
Today Imran appeared before the court and was acquitted of a role in the violence that rocked the capital in the 2014 sit-in.Addressing the media after the verdict, Khan expressed happiness and vowed to stop the misuse of anti-terrorism laws when PTI comes to power.
PTI leadership from day one has criticized the cases lodged against it in ATC and termed them politically motivated and primarily aimed to take vengeance against Khan’s political struggle in the country. PTI has opposed the use of terrorism cases against the political leaders to gain political ascendency and vengeance.PTI chief still faces cases on PTV and parliament attack.
At the climax of this long sit-in, protestors had allegedly beaten up the SSP Asmatullah Junejo on Constitution Avenue.
On April 25, Imran had failed to appear before the courtand his counsel submitted a request to grant him exemption from the hearing. But the prosecution had questioned the absence of Imran Khan and asked the judge that was it possible to read the judgment in the absence of the alleged culprit?
On objection of the prosecution, ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand summoned Khan to the court and said that Khan should be in the court as verdict would be announced in presence of the accused.
But due to Imran’s no-show, Judge had to adjourn the verdict on Imran’s acquittal plea to May 4.Moreover, the judge had warned that arrest warrents would be issued for Khan’s arrest if he fails to appear on May 4 [today] hearing.Imran denied his involvement in the violent attack on the institutions or government officials and his plea to transfer the cases to civil court was rejected in December last year.
Though, initially, Khan did not appear in the court, despite the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrant nevertheless, had to surrender, after the ATC ordered to seize his assets.On November 14, Khan was given the bail which was later extended.
Addressing the media after the verdict, Khan expressed happiness and vowed to stop the misuse of anti-terrorism laws when PTI comes to power.
On February 23, ATC turned down Khan’s plea seeking exemption from appearances. PTI chief’s counsel Babar Awan attempted to reassure the court that Khan is not a terrorist and refused to take any responsibility for these attacks.
In 2014, PTI along with Tahirul Qadri demonstrated against the PML-N government over the alleged rigging in 2013 general elections and Model Town killings for 104 days.At the climax of this long sit-in, protestors had allegedly beaten up the SSP Asmatullah Junejo on Constitution Avenue.
The protest which remained calm for a prolonged period of time apparently turned violent and resulted in the attack on the Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters and parts of the Parliament.Following these unpleasant scenes in the Federal Capital, cases were registered against the Imran Khan and Qadri along with other prominent party leaders.
PTI denies the criminal intent
PTI Chief Imran Khan and other senior leaders including Asad Umer, Shafqat Mehmood, Shaukat Yousafzai and Chief Minister (CM) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak are all facing ATC cases.
Other PTI leaders also deny vandalizing the government buildings. The prosecution had been adamantly arguing that protest was illegal, since; the government did not allow protesters to stage a sit-in on the Constitution Avenue.
PTI has opposed the use of terrorism cases against the political leaders to gain political ascendency and vengeance.PTI chief still faces cases on PTV and parliament attack.
PTI leaders have always denied and condemned the violent attacks on government buildings and claimed that the protesters were not from PTI.This verdict can apparently also lead to the acquittal in other cases for Imran and other party leaders.
Chief Minister (CM) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak had claimed that he was sleeping when violent protesters attacked the Pakistan Televisions and parliament building on the Constitutional Avenue. Similarly other leaders accuse incumbent government of witch-hunt.
Public prosecutor refutes the claims of PTI leaders and alleges that participants of the violent mob which attacked PTV and other government buildings were PTI workers which acted on the behest of PTI leadership.