Islamabad court acquits Imran Khan and PTI leaders in Azadi March case

A local court in Islamabad acquitted the party’s founder, Imran Khan, along with senior leaders Sheikh Rashid and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in connection with the Azadi March case. The verdict, delivered by Judicial Magistrate Malik Muhammad Imran, also exonerated PTI members Sadaqat Abbasi and Ali Nawaz Awan.

Background of the case

The case dates back to 2022 when it was registered at Islamabad’s I-9 police station. PTI leaders were accused of violating Section 144 and participating in acts of vandalism during the Azadi March. This march, led by Khan, was part of a broader effort to challenge the coalition government that had taken power following Khan’s ousting as prime minister after a vote of no-confidence.

Additional acquittals

In a related decision, the court also acquitted PTI leader Shehryar Khan Afridi and other party workers who were charged with arson and vandalism during the events of May 9. These rulings represent a major relief for PTI members facing legal battles.

Details of the allegations

On May 27, 2022, Islamabad police filed multiple cases against 150 individuals, including Khan and other PTI leaders, citing allegations of arson and vandalism in the federal capital. Evidence included footage from Safe City cameras and private TV news channels. At least 39 people were detained after being identified through the footage.

Context of the Azadi March

The Azadi March was a pivotal moment in PTI’s campaign for what it termed “real freedom,” aimed at ousting the “US-backed” coalition government. Khan’s rally toward Islamabad was a direct challenge to the coalition government, reflecting PTI’s ongoing struggle for political influence and reform.

Court proceedings

Judicial Magistrate Ehtesham Alam presided over the cases involving the PTI leadership, charged with vandalism and violating Section 144. PTI leaders Ali Muhammad Khan and Asad Umar appeared before the court, while other leaders filed acquittal pleas. The court’s decision to acquit these leaders offers a significant reprieve amidst the multitude of legal challenges they face.

Reactions and implications

The acquittal of key PTI figures is likely to have significant political repercussions. It not only provides relief to the individuals involved but also boosts the morale of PTI supporters. This outcome might embolden the party as it continues its political activities and confrontations with the ruling coalition.

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