A joint investigation team (JIT) — constituted by the Punjab interim government to probe arson attacks on Jinnah House (Corps Commander's House) and the Askari Corporate Tower in Lahore on May 9 — has summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to appear before it today (Tuesday), said well-informed sources.
Khan's arrest earlier this month sparked days of street protests after which the PTI leaders' exodus started, as security forces launched a crackdown against the party following the attacks on civil and military institutions, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Lahore Corps Commander’s House. At least eight people were killed in the violent protests in the country.
The JIT headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Kamran Adil has asked the former prime minister — who was removed from office via a vote of no-confidence in April last year — to appear before the probe body at 4pm on May 30 at Qila Gujjar Singh investigation headquarters.
The sources privy to the matter said that the JIT will grill Khan in connection with the May 9 riots. The Punjab Home Department has constituted 10 different joint investigation teams (JITs) to conduct a probe into the attacks and violent protests on May 9, which the army dubbed as "Black Day".
The deposed prime minister was nominated in several FIRs lodged at different police stations in the province, the sources added.
As per the media reports, the JIT is headed by DIG Adil and comprising Superintendent Police (SP) Investigation City Division Lahore Dr Raza Tanveer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP)/SP-AVLS Lahore Raza Zahid, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Taimoor Khan and Factory Area Police Station in-charge investigation Muhammad Sarwar.
After receiving the notice by the JIT, Khan has consulted with his legal team but it could not be decided yet whether the PTI chairman will appear before the probe body or not, the sources added.
On May 25, an anti-terrorism court allowed the handover of 16 suspects, involved in the ransacking and vandalising of Jinnah House, to the commanding officer so they can be tried under the army laws, as the country tightens the noose on the perpetrators of May 9 mayhem.
ATC Judge Abher Gul Khan accepted the request of the army officer who had sought the custody of the vandals presently confined in Camp Jail, Lahore.
They were named in two separate cases filed in connection with the attack on Corps Commander House also known as Jinnah House.
The accused include Amar Zohaib, Ali Iftikhar, Ali Raza, Muhammad Arsalan, Muhammad Umair, Muhammad Raheem, Zia-ur-Rehman, Waqas Ali, Raees Ahmad, Faisal Irshad, Muhammad Bilal Hussain, Faheem Haider, Arzam Junaid, ex-PTI MPA Mian Muhammad Akram Usman, Muhammad Hashir Khan, and Hassan Shakir.
“In view of the request made by Irfan Athar, Commanding Officer/Military Officer, duly forwarded by the prosecution as the case of above mentioned accused is exclusively triable by a military court, therefore, while accepting the request of Commanding Officer u/s 549(3) Cr.P.C, read with Rule 7(f) of Criminal Procedure (Military Offenders) Rules 1970, Superintendent, Camp Jail, Lahore is directed to hand over the custody of above said accused to Commanding Officer for further proceedings in accordance with the law,” the order said.
The PTI chairman, however, blamed the “agencies men” for arson and shooting in some areas during the May 9 violent protests.
In a tweet from his official handle on May 15, Khan had said his party has “ample amount of evidence” to prove that agencies’ men carried out arson and shootings during the protests to blame it on PTI.
On May 25, Khan requested the Supreme Court to declare, what he called, the imposition of undeclared martial law in provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, KP and Islamabad as unconstitutional, unlawful and without any effect and all actions taken in pursuant thereof void.
Imran Khan, through his lawyer Hamid Khan, filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution making the Federation through the defence, interior and Cabinet Division secretaries, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PMLN Quaid Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi and others as respondents.
He prayed the apex court to appoint a Judicial Commission comprising Supreme Court judges for probing into the horrendous and terrible incidents of May 9-10 and the actions leading to those unfortunate incidents, which caused the loss of precious human lives of dozens of persons and damage to the state and private property, including Jinnah House and other civilian installations, and fix responsibility and recommend action against persons involved.
He further prayed the apex court to declare that the arrests and detentions of the PTI members, supporters and workers under the Maintenance of Public Order and their successive detention orders without disclosure of the grounds of detention are unconstitutional and void and they are liable to be set free.
“That dismantling of the PTI through forcible quitting of party membership and office are unconstitutional and void being against Article 17 of the Constitution,” Imran further prayed to the apex court.
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