Issuing the warrant the ECP directed that Imran Khan should “be arrested and brought for the next hearing of the case”.
In a major setback for Imran Khan, the Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief. The election commission’s directive came over a contempt of court case filed against Khan for “repeatedly failing to appear for the hearing and for failing to send a written apology for absence in court”.
Imran Khan was summoned by the ECP for the hearing of a case filed on October 26, against the former Pakistan cricket captain, by one PTI’s founding members, Akbar S Babar. Issuing the warrant the ECP directed that Khan should “be arrested and brought for the next hearing of the case”.
However, as reported by Dawn, party spokesperson, Naeemul Haq stated that they will challenge the ECP’s warrant in the Islamabad High Court. Earlier, a bailable arrest warrant was issued by the ECP on September 14, after Khan failed to appear for the hearing on the case. However, the court suspended the warrant following a petition from PTI.
On Thursday, Advocate Shahid Gondil told the court that the case, pertaining to the ECP’s jurisdiction to hear the plea, was pending in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). According to PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haq, the party is also set to challenge the warrants in the IHC.
Hitting out at the ECP’s order, Babar Awan, Imran Khan’s chief counsel said, “A new warrant is 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 (the party) we will challenge it.”
Though the ECP claimed on August 10 that it has the legal right to hear the contempt case against Imran Khan, the PTI chief had earlier challenged the commission’s jurisdiction to initiate hearing. And after Khan’s repeated failures to address the commission, ECP issued a formal show-cause notice, asking him to reply by August 23.
Earlier, after Khan claimed that the commission is biased in the foreign-funding case against him, his counsel tendered a formal apology with the commission. However, in a interview to a TV channel, Imran Khan stated that though his counsel had sought apology, he had not.