Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday was granted interim bail—till Sept. 1—by an Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court in a case registered against him over allegedly threatening remarks about a woman judge during a public rally last week.
Khan was booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for acts of terrorism) on Sunday for allegedly “threatening” a women judge and senior police officers at a public rally in Islamabad. During his address, the ousted prime minister had reiterated his allegations of “judicial bias” and warned judges of consequences. Specifically naming Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved two-day physical remand of his former chief of staff Shahbaz Gill in a sedition case, he had said she should prepare herself for dire consequences.
The matter has already been taken up by the Islamabad High Court, which has initiated contempt of court proceedings against Khan and issued a show-cause notice for Aug. 31 to allow him a chance to explain his position.
During today’s bail hearing, Khan’s counsel Babar Awan said none of the three individuals—a judge and the Islamabad inspector general and deputy inspector general of police—that the former prime minister allegedly threatened during a rally in Islamabad were petitioners in the case against him. Claiming a mere “statement” was taken as a “threat,” he said the PTI chief had vowed legal action against the three individuals and had already approached the Islamabad High Court in this regard.
As Awan sought to continue his arguments, the judge halted him, saying this was unnecessary without any prosecution. The court then granted interim bail to Khan till Sept. 1 against a surety bond of Rs. 100,000, but rejected Awan’s plea for it to be extended for longer than a week. The judge also issued notices to the petitioner and prosecutor, seeking their replies on the case.
Separately, Khan was also granted bail till Sept. 7 on a case of allegedly violating Section 144 (ban on public gatherings) to stage a rally in the federal capital on Aug. 20
Addressing journalists after his bail hearing, Khan claimed the registration of a terrorism case against a former prime minister had made Pakistan a “laughingstock” of the world. “Our party member Shahbaz Gill was subjected to torture and sexual abuse, and in response, I said I would take legal action against police officers and a magistrate who sent him back to police on a remand despite the torture being proven,” he said, despite the allegations of torture remaining unproven. “But, ironically, a terror case was filed against me,” he said, claiming this projected Pakistan as “banana republic” to the global community.
“Whoever is taking such decisions should think about the country,” he said, without naming anyone. “They are afraid of the PTI’s power and the victories of the party in by-elections,” he said, adding that authorities were trying to get him removed through a “technical knockout.”