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LHC suspends ECP arrest warrants for Imran Khan, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry

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  • Court directs ECP to carry on with contempt proceedings.
  • Warns Fawad of action if he targets judiciary once again.
  • Warrants were issued after PTI leaders skipped hearings.

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Monday suspended PTI chief Imran Khan, senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry and party secretary general Asad Umar’s bailable arrest warrants issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The warrants were suspended by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan hearing the PTI leaders’ plea against the arrest warrants. The warrants were issued by ECP’s four-member bench, last week, and were challenged by the PTI leaders today.

Even though the court suspended the warrants, it directed the ECP to carry on with its contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders.

During the hearing, the court remarked “PTI seeks relief from the judiciary but targets them in the media”.

“Targeting the judiciary in the media is contempt of court. If Fawad Chaudhry targets the courts in the media again the contempt of court proceedings will be launched,” warned the court. 

Justice Khan remarked that Fawad during an interview with an international channel laid the blame for corruption on the media. He also told the PTI leader’s lawyer that the court was granting him relief right now but he should tell his client not to lay all the blame on the courts. 

“Enough is enough, the court will no longer show restraint,” remarked Justice Khan. 

Fawad to challenge warrants

Last week, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, immediately after the ECP’s decision, announced he would challenge the warrants in the high court and file a contempt plea against ECP.

“ECP’s decision to issue arrest warrants in contempt of the high court’s decision,” said Fawad. He said that the case was scheduled for January 17 and the verdict was announced today (January 16) in violation of the rules.

The PTI leader alleged that it was a “biased” decision of the ECP.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had also allowed the electoral body to proceed with contempt proceedings against Khan, Umar, and Fawad.

All three PTI leaders did not appear in the last hearing of the case. 

PIT lawyer Ali Bukhari said that Fawad’s mother was seriously ill and he was with her in a hospital in Lahore, while Imran Khan’s doctors had advised him against travelling.

Asad Umar’s lawyer Anwar Mansoor said the PTI secretary general was to attend the hearing but he could not make it to the federal capital. 

Imran, Fawad and Umar were issued contempt notices by the ECP, in August last year, for insulting the commission and its chief, Sikander Sultan Raja, in various public meetings, press conferences and interviews.

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PTI received unwelcome respite, according to Rana Sanaullah

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In the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) reserved seat dispute, the government would respect the majority ruling of the Supreme Court, according to PMLN senior leader and advisor on political affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan.

He stated that after examining the decision, the government’s legal team would react appropriately. According to Rana Sanaullah, the legal team would determine whether or not to submit a review petition.

“SIC petitions were rejected but PTI was given that relief which was neither asked in the petition nor contest during the proceeding,” asserted Rana Sanaullah in response to the ruling.

He argued that because parties established administrations with a simple majority, the PMLN-led unity movement did not have a two-thirds majority.

According to Rana Sanaullah, PTI should challenge election tribunal rulings, with the government carrying out the rulings.

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The membership of Sher Afzal Marwat has been suspended by PTI.

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According to sources, PTI officials convened with imprisoned party founder Imran Khan on Thursday to make a decision over Marwat.

The party authorities alleged that Sher Afzal Marwat had been consistently breaching party discipline over the past month.

“In the meeting with Imran Khan, it was mutually agreed that no leader holds a superior position within the party, and any other leaders who deviate from the party’s stance will face similar consequences,” they stated.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has recently issued a show-cause notice to Sher Afzal Marwat due to his irresponsible utterances.

The notice, issued by PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, requires Marwat to provide an explanation for his utterances within a three-day period. These statements have been considered harmful to the party’s reputation.

The notification declares that making such utterances goes against the party’s code of conduct and contravenes the explicit directives of the party’s founder, Imran Khan, who has underscored the significance of accountable conduct.

Marwat was cautioned that if they fail to react or offer a satisfactory explanation, it could result in additional disciplinary measures.

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Supporting phone tapping for “national security,” Khawaja Asif

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In the continuous fight against terrorism, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has stated that he is a strong supporter of security agencies’ phone tapping practices.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, particularly party head Omer Ayub, criticized and engaged in contentious arguments following Asif’s statements.

The significance of phone tapping for national security was emphasized by Khawaja Asif in an interview with a foreign media source. “Terrorism is the enemy that we fight. Given the circumstances, I will be in favor of phone tapping,” he said.

Noting that the phone tapping matter is presently being handled through the legal system, he further urged that everyone support the measure. “Phone tapping is necessary for national security,” he asserted.

By highlighting the PTI’s erratic position on the issue, the defense minister also rejected the party’s concerns as hypocritical.

Every action, whether legal and illegal, seemed acceptable to Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Taliban, when he was on good terms with the authorities.” Asif said, “The same thing is hateful to his followers today.”

In order to prevent terrorism and protect national security, Asif emphasized the importance of phone tapping. Under the present conditions, I will be in favor of phone tapping. The fight against terrorism required it, he declared. In these difficult circumstances, he also urged detractors to think about the wider effects of security precautions.

After former prime minister Imran Khan complained about his phone being tapped, Asif hinted that the PTI’s present protests are politically motivated by pointing to earlier instances in which they had a positive relationship with the establishment.

For the purpose of maintaining national security and preventing any criminal activity, the central government granted Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the nation’s premier spy agency, permission to tap phones on July 8. A notification stating that Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act 1996 permits ISI to record phone calls has been issued. Anything that falls under the notification category can be recorded by it.

The notice included a call recording feature in addition to the ability to track messages and calls. Subject to the prime minister’s approval, ISI personnel ranked 18th or higher are granted this authority. It will be feasible to record WhatsApp calls, SMS, and other applications in addition to cell calls, the release states.

Notably, on June 30, Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court said that it is legally unlawful to monitor civilians in any way in the case of the audio leaks involving the son of former chief justice Saqib Nisar and Bushra Bibi. According to his ruling, the prime minister and the cabinet bear both collective and individual responsibility for the widespread surveillance of four million citizens carried out by the federal government through the system.

The prime minister should acquire intelligence agency reports and bring the issue before the cabinet, the court judgment stated. Furthermore, according to the decision, the prime minister must report to the court on the Lawful Management System within six weeks.

“The prime minister will tell whether the surveillance of citizens is going on against the law and constitution,” the court stated.

Along with identifying who is in charge of the surveillance system that is interfering with citizens’ privacy, he should also disclose who installed the Lawful Interception Management System and mass surveillance. By July 5, all telecom firms were ordered by the court to submit their reports about the Lawful Interception Management System.

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