Islamabad court reserves verdict on Imran Khan’s exemption plea in Toshakhana case amid security concerns

An Islamabad court has reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan seeking exemption from appearance in the Toshakhana case due to security threats. The Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal reserved the verdict after hearing arguments from Mr Khan’s lawyer, Khawaja Harris, on the petition. The court has summoned Mr Khan for indictment in the case, which was initiated on a complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

During today’s hearing, Mr Harris told the court that his client could not appear due to security threats and was not deliberately skipping the hearings. He also submitted another plea asking the court to declare the petition filed by the ECP seeking criminal proceedings against the PTI chief inadmissible. Mr Harris raised questions on the ECP complaint, saying it was not filed by a competent authority and that he opposed Mr Khan’s indictment in the case.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court suspended the non-bailable arrest warrants issued against Mr Khan by Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal in the graft case related to the purchase and sale of gifts from the Toshakhana until March 13. The former prime minister has thrice skipped indictment hearings in the district and sessions court in the case initiated at the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan for concealing the details of gifts he retained from the Toshakhana while in power.

Last Sunday, the capital police attempted to arrest Mr Khan after the sessions court issued warrants against him, but he reportedly “dodged” them. He later demanded a public hearing of the case and criticized the coalition government for its incompetence and mismanagement. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) subsequently banned television channels from broadcasting Mr Khan’s speeches and news conferences, accusing him of attacking the state’s institutions and promoting hatred. However, the Lahore High Court later suspended the Pemra notification.

Last year, a reference was filed against Mr Khan by lawmakers from the ruling coalition, accusing him of not sharing the details of gifts he retained from Toshakhana in his assets declarations. The Election Commission of Pakistan subsequently disqualified him for being dishonest and corrupt and sought criminal proceedings against him for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts.

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