The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was recently ordered by the Lahore High Court (LHC) to cancel their planned rally at Iqbal Park (Minar-e-Pakistan) this Sunday. The party has been ordered by the court to take into account how citizens go about their daily lives and refrain from interfering.
Despite potential “security threats,” the PTI had announced a “historic” public rally that would be led by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. To stop the police operation that had been started in the Zaman Park neighbourhood to arrest Khan in the Toshakhana case, senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry, however, filed a court petition.
After an initial hearing, the high court ordered the police operation to be suspended until today, which helped defuse the conflict at the former prime minister’s home, which had turned into a flashpoint. The court did observe that neither the Islamabad High Court (IHC) nor the Lahore High Court (LHC) had quashed the arrest warrants for Khan.
Numerous people were hurt during the nearly 24-hour-long clash between PTI supporters and law enforcement during which tear gas and Molotov cocktails were thrown. Following Khan’s resignation as prime minister in a parliamentary vote last year, legal action against him was taken.
Since then, he has led international demonstrations calling for immediate elections, during one of which he was shot and injured.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh made a comment during today’s hearing that neither party had read the law completely, which “jammed the system” as a result. The judge reprimanded the PTI counsel, saying that the party had caused suffering for the country and lacked knowledge of where to plead.
Khan had numerous court appearances, the PTI leader argued, making it challenging for him to appear in each one. The judge advised adopting appropriate security measures and making advance plans, noting that the PTI should have started making plans for the rally 15 days earlier.
The PTI should “bring itself inside the system’s ambit” and schedule a meeting with authorities, Justice Saleem emphasised, in order to resolve the situation. The judge demanded that the PTI postpone the rally after expressing embarrassment for the country.
The hearing was not necessary because the IHC also issued an order, according to Advocate General Shan Gul, who told the court. Given that neither court had blocked the execution of Khan’s arrest warrants, the judge decided to postpone the hearing until tomorrow.
The Lahore High Court stressed that citizens’ daily routines must take precedence when it ruled that the PTI should cancel its upcoming rally. The PTI has been urged by the court to adhere to due process and cooperate with law enforcement in order to resolve the situation.