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October 13, 2017

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ECP orders arrest of Imran

ECP orders arrest of Imran

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday issued non-bailable arrest warrant for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a contempt of court case and asked for his production before the commission on October 26. The arrest warrant was issued following his repeated failures to personally appear before the Election Commission in the party’s foreign funding case.

The PTI, on the other hand, declared the arrest warrant unconstitutional and illegal and decided to challenge the same in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Imran’s lawyer Babar Awan said that they would be challenging the warrant in the full bench of the IHC.

“A new warrant has been 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,” explained Babar Awan.

The contempt application was filed on January 23 this year by the PTI’s founding member and former central vice president Akbar S Babar after he developed differences with Imran in 2011 over alleged internal corruption and illegal funding of the PTI.

The ECP verdict was announced on Thursday, one day after a three-member larger bench of the IHC had directed the ECP to proceed on the contempt application according to the law. The hearing of the contempt application was delayed slightly. However, the three-two verdict in favour of issuing non-bailable arrest warrant for Imran was announced by an ECP spokesperson shortly after deliberations by the five-member bench of the commission. He told journalists that the Election Commission had taken notice of a fresh contempt application filed on September 25 and ordered Imran to file his reply by the next hearing fixed for October 26. The fresh contempt application was also filed by Akbar S Babar for allegedly defaming the Election Commission in a press briefing outside the Karachi airport on September 20 while Babar Awan, Imran’s lawyer and former attorney of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, was arguing before a larger bench of the IHC that Imran had all the respect for the Election Commission.

Talking to the media outside the Election Commission, Akbar S Babar welcomed the commission’s decision and said it would send a positive signal to the society about universal application of law. He alleged that Imran had consistently refused to comply with the ECP orders during the course of the foreign funding case filed in November 2014. Akbar S Babar said Imran has tried to browbeat the ECP by scandalising it in public perception to avoid accountability and scrutiny of the PTI accounts. He criticised Imran for questioning the jurisdiction of any and every legal forum, where he was challenged for his actions. “How can ordinary citizens be expected to respect law when the powerful consider themselves beyond the reach of law,” he wondered.

He said by constantly ridiculing constitutional bodies without taking any constructive legislative actions to strengthen them, Imran Khan only promotes anarchy in the country. He said democracy would remain weak as long as constitutional bodies remain weak and unassertive under law despite their assigned constitutional and legal role.

He said democracy would remain weak and vulnerable until those who preach democracy and the rule of law did not practice it. He said the ECP has a fundamental role to play to regulate the political parties under the law. “Their role must be strengthened if political parties are to be institutionalised to create the necessary nurseries for new and credible leadership to emerge regularly. Otherwise, our democracy would remain hostage to individuals who consider political parties their personal fiefdom only to promote vested interests under the garb of democracy,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, PTI’s senior leader Naeemul Haq said the issuance of non-bailable warrant for Imran Khan was a condemnable act. Talking to journalists here, he alleged the chief election commissioner had shown a narrow-minded approach by resorting to this act. He also said the warrant would be challenged in the court. He claimed that the Election Commission wanted to give judgement in the case on the basis of powers which it did not enjoy.

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