Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday appeared before the Lahore High Court which granted him protective bail in a case linked to violent protests outside the election commission, amidst high drama inside the court premises where hundreds of his supporters converged to show solidarity with him. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists staged a violent protest after 70-year-old Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the prohibited funding case last year.
Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh had directed Khan to appear before the court for the hearing of his protective bail petition in the case. A court official told PTI that a two-member bench of LHC led by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi granted the protective bail to the PTI chairman till March 3. The bail was given in the case related to PTI protestors’ alleged rioting and clashes with Islamabad police in October in the aftermath of his disqualification by the ECP."Khan appeared before the court and told him that he wanted to appear before it last week but doctors had advised him to rest as his leg wound would heal in over two weeks. He also said he always respected the courts as he is an upholder of justice. He said ‘justice’ is also included in his party’s name," the official said.
Justice Najafi appreciated Khan for submitting to the law. The judge granted him protective bail till March 3 and refrained police and any other agency from arresting him. His plea for bail in another case — which was also registered in Islamabad and pertained to protests outside the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — was disposed of after the ex-premier withdrew his petition. The proceedings in both petitions culminated only after the high court had to wait for hours and set multiple deadlines for Imran to arrive.
Khan evaded the PML-N government's plan to arrest him as he appeared before the court and secured protective bail in the case in which he was booked under terrorism charges. A team of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police were present at the federal coalition government's directive at the court premises to arrest Khan in case of denial of his bail. This was the first time Khan appeared before a court of law after he sustained bullet injuries in November last year's attack on his rally in Punjab province. Thousands of workers of Khan's party thronged the route of his Lahore residence to the LHC that made him cover a 10-minute distance in more than two hours.
Khan’s vehicle was showered with rose petals as it made its way inside the LHC premises with a large number of PTI supporters chanting slogans in his support and against the PML-N-led coalition government. And despite his arrival at the court's premises, Khan could not manage to reach the courtroom in 90 minutes because of a crowd of PTI workers. Sporting a blue salwar kameez, Khan got off his vehicle at 7.15 pm (local time) and reached the courtroom in heavy security cover. Thousands of people were present outside the LHC and there were hardly any security arrangements.
After hearing the news of Khan's protective bail, a large number of PTI supporters present at the court chanted slogans in his favor and the judiciary.
Earlier, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had given Khan a last chance to appear before the court on Monday while hearing his protective bail petition in the case related to protests outside the ECP. On February 15, an Islamabad anti-terrorism court on grounds of non-appearance rejected Khan’s request for an extension in his interim bail in a case pertaining to violent protests outside the ECP. Interestingly, Khan was not present in the protest demonstration outside the ECP building in Islamabad but the government got him booked under terrorism charges. Khan has been residing in his Zaman Park residence in Lahore since an attempt was made on his life in November 3 in Wazirabad.