The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday granted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan interim bail till 6th April in seven cases registered against him following clashes at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) on March 18 when the former premier had appeared in the Toshakhana case. The court has directed Imran Khan to approach the trial court. The court said on the issue of security we are issuing notice to the federation and are stopping the police from arresting Imran Khan. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq while addressing the counsel of Imran Khan said we are granting interim bail but ultimately Imran Khan has to appear in front of the trial court, adding that we will issue directions to administration for provision of the foolproof security to Imran Khan.

In petitions filed in the IHC on Monday, the PTI chief sought interim bail in the cases registered against him at Golra, Bara Kahu, Ramna, Khanna, and CTD police stations.

A two-member IHC division bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, heard the former premier’s petition.

The pleas, filed through Barrister Salman Safdar, stated that Imran Khan would suffer “irreparable loss” if he was arrested.

“Furthermore, being head of the single largest political party, there is an apprehension that his political adversaries and opponents would be able to further their nefarious designs and political ambitions if pre-arrest bail is not granted to the petitioner,” they added.

A video on PTI’s official Twitter showed the PTI chairman entering the court premises as a huge contingent of the Islamabad police surrounded his vehicle.

He was escorted to the courtroom while being covered with a bullet-proof jacket.

When asked by a reporter during an unofficial talk with the media upon his arrival about Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent remarks about Imran Khan, the former premier replied, “My wish is that both (Imran and Rana Sanaullah) remain but if he is saying that then I will just say that he won’t remain.”

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“For politicians, the doors for talks remain open. Those who have been playing by collaborating with the umpire, what would they know about a level-playing field,” he added.

At the outset of the hearing, Imran Khan’s counsel Salman Safdar said, “An objection was raised on the biometric [fingerprints]. If the age becomes more than 60, it (biometric) becomes difficult.

Upon this, Justice Farooq asked rhetorically, “Why? Does the thumbprint vanish after 60 years?

“In fact, it is very easy now. Get them done from any Easypaisa shop and submit them,” he told the lawyer.

Barrister Safdar then proceeded to tell the court that Imran did not go to the trial court due to “security risks”.

The IHC chief justice then asked, “Why did you come to the Islamabad High Court after bypassing the trial court?”

He further said, “You have to maintain the law and order situation. If you will bring 10,000 people with you to the court appearance, then of course there will be a law and order situation.”

To this, Imran’s counsel replied, “We do not call anyone. People come by themselves.

At this point during the hearing, Imran appeared on the rostrum but Justice Farooq directed him to return to his seat, which he obliged with.

The IHC chief justice went on to say, “There are security risks to Imran Khan, which must be genuine. There has also been an attack on Imran Khan once.”

At this point during the hearing, the court called Islamabad Advocate General Barrister Jehangir Khan Jadoon to the rostrum. Justice Aurangzeb said, “The court told the chief commissioner numerous times to provide security [to Imran].”

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To this, Jadoon responded, “The trial court as shifted from the F-8 katcheri to the Judicial Complex.

He further said that the former premier did not come out of his car at the court and his party workers lit cars on fire.

The court then replied that the security of each citizen is the state’s responsibility. “The state should do its work and assure protection,” he added.

The IHC chief justice then said, “You do not provide security then what else would they do? We have just received a petition today; will hear it tomorrow.

“What would happen when the state would give irresponsible statements?” Justice Farooq asked Jadoon.

As the PTI chief moved towards Islamabad, a petition was filed in IHC by his lawyers seeking pre-arrest bail in the multiple cases registered in different police stations of the federal capital.

The plea urges the court to stop the federal government from arrest the PTI chief in those cases, adding that the cases have been registered for political revenge.

However, the registrar office of the court has attached objections to the petitions as the plea lacks the PTI chief’s biometric.

“How can a petition be filed in a high court before [it is filed] in a trial court,” asked the registrar office.

Later, when the PTI chief arrived at the premises his biometric was conducted. The biometric objection was then removed and the plea was admitted for hearing with other objections.

Ahead of the hearing, PTI leader Dr. Shireen Mazari claimed that Imran’s photographer Imran G and three other civilians were taken into custody by the police while they were on the way to the IHC.

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“These 4 unarmed civilians, one of whom is our official photographer, were with Imran Khan car on way to IHC & were arrested without having committed any crime & now apparently taken to Ramna police station. Then we are targeted for criticising the ICT police!” she tweeted.

Separately, videos on PTI’s official Twitter party supporters being taken away by men in civilian attires.

“Its shameful how PTI workers are being arrested in Islamabad today. Why are people not in even in uniform putting our people in prison vans,” the party asked.

On the other hand, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hasan Wattoo told a private TV channel that a total of 13 PTI supporters have been arrested by the police so far.

Meanwhile, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has thrown the ball in the government’s court by asking it to take the next step for talks with the PTI.

“We never hesitate from holding talks but their intention has a taint … they talk about holding dialogue but at the same time out supporters and activists are being picked up,” he said at in a media talk in Islamabad today.

“Are they doing all this to make the environment favourable for talks?” Qureshi asked rhetorically.

Criticising the incumbent government for making statements that “vitiate the [political] climate”, the PTI leader said: “You have invited us for talks … so inform us about your team […] you should tell [us] their names. What is your agenda? Put it forward so we can see and constitute our team accordingly. “If we can find a way to materialise elections by sitting together, then we are ready,” Qureshi asserted.