In a significant turn of events, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has issued orders for the immediate release of former Punjab CM Pervez Elahi. The court’s ruling comes with strict instructions to investigate his arrest, which was deemed in violation of court orders.
During the proceedings on Friday, the Lahore High Court took a firm stance, warning the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that an arrest warrant would be issued for the director general of the watchdog if Pervez Elahi was not produced before the court within an hour.
Expressing its displeasure, Justice Amjad Rafiq criticized both NAB and the provincial government for their conduct, emphasizing that the high court’s authority was being undermined. Justice Rafiq bluntly stated, “Stop playing ping-pong with the court.”
It is noteworthy that the Lahore High Court had previously directed NAB twice to produce Pervez Elahi in court, but NAB had failed to do so, citing various pretexts.
During Friday’s proceedings, Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nihung explained that they had not received the court order issued on Thursday. He then presented a letter from the provincial caretaker government, stating that the armed forces and the Punjab Police were engaged in anti-terrorism operations and that armored vehicles were unavailable. The letter also mentioned reports from the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) regarding threats to the lives of politicians, including Elahi.
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NAB’s prosecutor informed the court that they were willing to produce Elahi in court if the provincial government ensured adequate security arrangements.
Justice Rafiq responded by stating that there appeared to be an “all-out” effort to undermine the court’s authority.
In response, NAB’s counsel acknowledged security concerns but affirmed their commitment to following the court’s orders, even if it meant taking risks.
The Lahore High Court had been hearing a petition filed by Pervez Elahi challenging his arrest by the accountability watchdog. Elahi argued that his arrest was in direct violation of the LHC’s previous order, which prohibited the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), FIA, NAB, and Punjab Police from arresting him in any known or unknown case.
A day earlier, Justice Rafiq had strongly criticized the repeated arrests of the senior PTI leader, referring to them as “drama,” and expressed his dissatisfaction with the issuance of detention orders and the filing of multiple First Information Reports against Pervez Elahi.