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LHC summons Asad Umar over 'contemptuous' long march speech

LHC's Rawalpindi registry takes up plea against PTI leader's Nov 26 speech against judiciary during long march

By Shabbir Dar
December 05, 2022
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar receives welcome as his convoy arrives in Makkuana, Faisalabad, during partys long march. — Instagram/@asadumarofficial
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar receives welcome as his convoy arrives in Makkuana, Faisalabad, during party's long march. — Instagram/@asadumarofficial

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court on Monday took up a plea against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar's speech during the party's long march gathering on November 26, the day it was finally called off after almost a month.

Justice Jawad Hassan of the LHC's Rawalpindi bench held a hearing on the plea filed by the additional registrar of the court's Rawalpindi registry.

The Rawalpindi deputy commissioner, capital city police officer, and Advocate Faisal Chaudhry — to represent the defence in the case — appeared before the court.

During the hearing, Justice Hassan remarked that Umar "targeted" the courts and judges in his November 26 speech.

"Asad Umar scandalised the courts in his speech during the November 26 rally and used contemptuous words against the judiciary," the court remarked.

It said that Umar's speech will be reviewed first.

"No institution or personality can be made controversial, under Article 14 of the Constitution. The court has the authority to punish under Article 204(B) of the Constitution," Justice Hassan remarked.

He summoned the PTI leader in person to court at the next hearing and sought a video transcript of Umar's speech

Later, the court sought a response from Umar over the plea against his speech and adjourned the hearing till December 7. 

PTI's long march

PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, along with his supporters and party leaders, started the "Azadi March" against the incumbent government on October 28, to force them to conduct early elections in the country.

However, Khan called off his party's long march on November 26 and announced not to move forward to Islamabad. He also announced to dissolve all the assemblies, saying that he did not want to be a part of “this system”.

It was when the former prime minister attended the public gathering for the first time since the attempt on his life on November 3 in Wazirabad, where Khan's convoy stopped during PTI's long march. 

Khan survived an assassination bid in a shooting incident that left him injured in both his legs. The much-touted anti-government march on the federal capital was abruptly stopped on November 3 after Khan was wounded. 

The former prime minister was rushed to Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Lahore, where he received treatment for bullet wounds and fracture in the legs. 

The march was later resumed from the same point but PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi led it, as Khan announced that he would lead join the march from Rawalpindi. Since then, he was addressing the march participants via video link.

Khan, after days of warning to quit all the assemblies to pressure the government on early elections, also expressed willingness to halt the assemblies' dissolution if the ruling coalition agrees to hold polls by the end of March next year, on December 4. 

“If they are ready for elections by the end of March, then we won't dissolve the assemblies. Otherwise, we want to conduct polls by dissolving the KP and Punjab assemblies,” Khan said.

He added that his party won’t agree on a date after March and assemblies will be dissolved this month [December] if the government disagrees.