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Supreme Court allows PTI to hold protest in H-9, bars govt from arresting Imran Khan

The SC issued the orders after the PTI assured that its workers would not cause damage to public and private properties.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has allowed the PTI to hold its Azadi March in the H-9 area of Islamabad and restrained the government from arresting party chairman Imran Khan.

PTI, however, has ignored the SC’s decision and trying to hold rally in D-Chowk.

The apex court ordered the authorities not to make “unnecessary use of force” and raid the homes and offices of or arrest other PTI leaders and workers. It also ordered the immediate release of detained lawyers as well as those arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance 1960. Furthermore, it ordered that the automobiles confiscated within the last 48 hours be returned to their owners.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi, issued the orders after hearing the petition filed by Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) President Mohammad Shoaib Shaheen a day earlier, seeking the removal of blockades in the capital ahead of the PTI’s march.

“While playing the role of the arbitrator, we pass the order that no raids should be conducted on the homes of PTI workers,” the Supreme Court said. “The lawyers on whom there are not serious charges should also be immediately released.”

The SC bench, in its order, said it hoped that the top PTI leadership would also tell the party supporters to not take the law in their hands.

The SC issued the orders after the PTI assured that its workers would not cause damage to public and private properties. While the court allowed the protest to continue on Srinagar Highway, it also said that “the flow of traffic must not be affected, the citizens must not be bothered, and the protestors should remain peaceful.”

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf opposed the court’s decision to allow the PTI to hold its protest in the designated area. “[Their] request to hold the protest in G-9 area has already been rejected.”

The attorney general said the “PTI workers will be [numbered] in hundreds of thousands,” adding that “[the site] where the JUI-F held its rally had the capacity of only 15,000.”

At this, PTI counsel Awan quipped: “I am grateful [to you] for acknowledging that the number will be in hundreds of thousands.”

Meanwhile, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed assured the court that its orders will be followed whatever they may be.

The attorney general informed the court that an eight-member committee comprising four members each from the PTI and the government has been formed.

Awan, Faisal Chaudhry, Amir Kiyani and Ali Nawaz will be representing the PTI on the committee, whereas the government has nominated Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ahsan Iqbal, Ayaz Sadiq and Azam Nazeer Tarar.

The apex court ordered for the committee to hold a meeting at 10pm tonight as it adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (Thursday).

Attorney general told to seek instructions from PM over PTI’s demands

Earlier, the Supreme Court asked Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf to seek directions from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over the PTI’s demands regarding its Azadi March.

PTI lawyer Babar Awan appeared on the rostrum when the hearing resumed after a short break around 3pm. He told the court that the party had asked for permission to stage the march on May 23.

Awan called on the court to issue directives to the government. He demanded that the blockades placed on roads be lifted and the arrested PTI workers be released immediately. He assured the court that the party would adhere to its directives.

Justice Ahsan remarked that there was a lack of communication and trust between the government and the PTI.

Awan told the court that Imran had formed a four-member committee for talks with the administration, comprising him, Faisal Chaudhry, Amir Kiyani and Ali Awan. He asked the court to allow the PTI to stage a protest at Srinagar Highway.

“We want to protest where the JUI-F staged a sit-in twice in the past,” he said, assuring the court that it would be peaceful and not affect routine life. He also urged the court to intervene against the tear gas shelling by the authorities on the protesters.

The apex court directed the attorney general to seek directions from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding the PTI’s demands. The AG should inform the court after an hour after seeking instructions from the PM, the court said.

Justice Ahsan said that the PTI’s demands were clear and expressed hope that parties would reach a decision within an hour.

The attorney general said the PM would soon nominate a team for talks with the PTI. “The prime minister wants political matters to be settled outside of court,” he said.

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Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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