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Shahbaz Gill registers himself as PTI’s ‘foreign agent’ in US

The PTI leader not indicted in a sedition case

By News Report & Our Correspondent/online
June 04, 2023
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill speaks to the media in this undated photo. — APP/File
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill speaks to the media in this undated photo. — APP/File

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s close aide Shahbaz Gill — who is currently in the US — has registered himself as a foreign agent of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the country. Gill registered himself as the party’s foreign agent under the US Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and was issued a registration number by the US Department of Justice. The former premier’s special assistant is facing sedition charges and was allowed to travel abroad by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on March 29 for one month but he later filed a new plea seeking an extension in his stay in the US. In his documents submitted on May 11, Gill apprised the US authorities about nine meetings he held with American citizens between April 19 and May 9 this year. In all these meetings, he wrote, “The current violation of human rights in Pakistan” was discussed with US citizens.

The registration documents also include Gill’s written statement describing the nature and method of his intentions in the US as an agent. “It is completely on an honorary basis. No financial charges are involved. I believe in PTI’s vision,” he wrote. He further added: “Being their [PTI’s] political supporter, I try to promote their political struggle for the democracy and rule of law and make people/officials in the United States of America aware of the political struggle of the people of Pakistan and PTI.” In his statement, Gill also wrote that along with meeting people and attending protests, he intended to try to hold meetings with government officials, including congressional representatives and senators, and any other relevant officials such as from the State Department or Department of Justice.

“I have plans to meet with the general public and Pakistani Americans, as well as with officials to discuss the current political crisis in Pakistan. Matters of violation of human rights and violation of freedom of speech will be discussed,” his statement read. It further added: “For this purpose, I will be attending some public meetings, and protests, organised by Pakistani Americans. I will also try to meet government officials including congressional representatives and senators, and any other relevant officials such as from the State Department or Department of Justice, to enhance the understanding of governance in Pakistan and violation of its democratic values.”

Meanwhile, PTI leader Shahbaz Gill could not be indicted in the sedition “inciting the public against state institution” case. The case came up for hearing in the district and sessions court, Islamabad. Murtaza Toori, counsel for Shahbaz Gill, appeared in the court of duty Judge Arshid Mehmood. Murtaza Toori told the court that Shahbaz Gill is in the US at present. He cannot appear in court. Therefore, his exemption plea be accepted. Prosecution Raja Rizwan Abbasi opposed the exemption plea of Shahbaz Gill. The Lahore High Court had allowed Shahbaz Gill to go abroad for two weeks. Shahbaz Gill has filed an application in the court for extending the period of his stay abroad.