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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan for his continued absence from proceedings pertaining to the contempt of court case and his failure to tender a written apology for doing so. The country’s chief poll body has ordered that Khan should be arrested and presented before the commission in the next hearing on 26th October.

The ECP is hearing the case filed by PTI dissident and one of its founding members, Akbar S Babar. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Muhammad Raza suspended proceedings as soon as they began. During the meeting in the chambers, the ECP issued non-bailable arrest warrants. PTI spokesman, Naeem Ul Haque has said that the warrants will be challenged in the Islamabad High Court.

Watchers of domestic politics in the country argue that if Khan comes out of the Supreme Court and ECP unhurt, it will be politically damaging for the ruling party, which is trying to fend off NAB references against the Sharif family

The ECP issued bailable arrest warrants of the 65-year old Khan last month which were suspended by the IHC after PTI filed a petition. PTI’s leader and Khan’s counsel, Babar Awan took exceptions to the new warrants and said the party will assess if this constitutes a contempt of court. “A new warrant is issued in the same case where a bailable warrant was already suspended. We will also look into whether this is contempt of the IHC’s full bench or not, and then we will challenge it,” said Babar Awan.

Read more: ECP is gunning for Khan at all costs ; orders Islamabad…

Imran Khan poses the biggest challenge to the government with his unwavering resolve to oust whom he calls corrupt in order to ensure that the country treads on the path of democracy where everyone is held accountable. Khan challenged the jurisdiction of the body in hearing the contempt of court case. However, the ECP said in its decision on 10th August that it has the legal right to hear the case.

Analysts opine that the threat of Khan still looms large and plays on the mind of the PML-N. Sources keenly following the PML-N -Khan tiff believe that Khan will be put under more pressure in the days to come

In August, ECP issued a second show-cause notice to Imran Khan after he failed to reply to the earlier notice served on 24th January regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him. Khan has often accused the ECP of being biased and under influence of the government. He believes that the Sharifs thrive on damaging national institutions, using them for eking out safe passages in their operations. His counsel had tendered an apology but Khan retorted saying the council did that in his personal capacity.

Read more: Sparring between PML-N and PTI continues in the ECP

The balancing off theory

The charismatic cricket legend-turned-politician has been the most vociferous opponent of the government and the Sharif family. He played the lead role in the disqualification of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Analysts opine that the threat of Khan still looms large and plays on the mind of the PML-N. Sources keenly following the PML-N -Khan tiff believe that Khan will be put under more pressure in the days to come.

In August, ECP issued a second show-cause notice to Imran Khan after he failed to reply to the earlier notice served on 24th January regarding the contempt of court proceedings against him

Well-placed sources in the PTI and other political commentators point out that efforts are being made to disqualify Khan on frivolous grounds just to “balance off” the ouster of his nemesis, Nawaz Sharif. Legal experts to include the inimitable legal wizard Aitzaz Ahsan have categorically stated that there is no comparison between Khan’s case and the Panama Case.

Read more: Imran Khan explains to ECP that he had borrowed money from…

Watchers of domestic politics in the country argue that if Khan comes out of the Supreme Court and ECP unhurt, it will be politically damaging for the ruling party, which is trying to fend off NAB references against the Sharif family. While experts believe that it is relatively easy for the government to obfuscate matters by bringing up legal nuances, Khan will find it difficult to thwart the attempts to dislodge him as he will be facing the full brunt of the government and state machinery.