Imran Khan demands personal appearance and live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings

Imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan has requested a personal appearance and live streaming of the Supreme Court proceedings regarding his petition against amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) introduced by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government. Khan, who had previously appeared via video link, submitted this application through Adiala Jail authorities, according to his legal counsel.

Speaking to reporters after a hearing on a £190 million corruption reference, Khan highlighted his upcoming Supreme Court appearance on May 30, expressing his determination to address the court directly. He reflected on the February 8 elections, emphasising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s electoral success despite negative propaganda and the challenges faced, including the absconding of returning officers in Islamabad.

Khan criticised the slow pace of election tribunals, which have yet to deliver verdicts over three months post-election. He also condemned the Punjab government’s new defamation law, viewing it as a means to suppress media freedom and stifle dissent.

The PTI leader alleged that his party is being targeted and hindered from holding public events, contrasting this with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s restraint in legal matters. He accused the authorities of orchestrating an attack on PTI leader Raoof Hassan, claiming that the system is being manipulated through intimidation.

Khan urged his party to prepare for street protests in response to the attack, though he noted the PTI’s current restraint due to the economy’s fragile state. He hinted at potential reactions during the upcoming budget session.

Lambasting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Khan criticised the call for national sacrifices, arguing that leaders should only make such requests if they have themselves made personal sacrifices. He accused the Sharif family and Asif Zardari of hoarding wealth abroad and demanded the repatriation of their funds.

Khan praised the judiciary for its independence and commitment to justice, commending judges for upholding the rule of law. He also defended his use of funds from selling Toshakhana gifts for constructing the Banigala road.

In other developments, Khan welcomed the release of PTI Central President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, lauding his resilience but noting that Elahi’s release would have been swifter if he had distanced himself from PTI.

Cipher case hearing delayed

In a separate legal matter, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) could not conclude the hearing on appeals by Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi against their convictions in the cipher case. The delay was due to the absence of Special Prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah, who was attending to his ill mother.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Minagul Hassan Aurangzeb resumed the hearing, during which another Special Prosecutor, Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi, sought to introduce additional evidence. Justice Aurangzeb criticised this move as a tactic to prolong the case, while Justice Farooq ordered the prosecution to complete their arguments by Thursday.

The court also scrutinised the state counsel representing Khan and Qureshi during cross-examination, following complaints about the defense counsel employing delaying tactics. Lead defense counsel Barrister Salman Safdar assured the court that the defense had no objections to the state’s proceedings.

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