Pakistan’s caretaker government on Tuesday refused to present Imran Khan before the country’s election commission, citing security threats to the jailed former Prime Minister.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was hearing the contempt case against the Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and other party leaders, including Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry, who were present for the hearing. Khan was represented by his counsel Shoaib Shaheen.
During the hearing, the Punjab Police informed the ECP that due to security threats, it was not possible to present the 71-year-old leader who is in the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi in the cipher case.
An officer of the Punjab Police told the commission on behalf of the interior ministry that there were threats to Khan’s life. “He has himself expressed it,” he said. “Are you sure he is right?” the ECP members asked the officer.
The ECP was not satisfied with the response and asked how the country’s security agencies could provide security during the upcoming general elections if unable to provide adequate security to one person.
The senior police official suggested the ECP should hear the case in Adiala jail.
“How can you order us to hold a hearing in Adiala? If the Ministry of Interior cannot provide security to one person, how will we conduct the elections?” said the ECP.
The country’s poll body, which had earlier issued production orders for the presence of Khan, decided to summon Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani and adjourned the hearing till November 13.
Separately, a division bench of the Islamabad High Court, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat, rejected Khan’s intra-court appeal against his jail trial in the cipher case.
His counsel Salman Akram Raja contended before the bench that the federal government did not have the authority to issue a notification for holding the cricketer-turned-politician’s trial in prison.
“They are judicial officers. The federal government does not have any authority to ‘pick and choose’ [judges],” he added.
However, the bench rejected the plea.
An Islamabad High Court single-member bench earlier this month found no apparent malice behind conducting Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case.