Islamabad court grants police 2-day physical remand of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry – Pakistan

An Islamabad district and sessions court on Wednesday night granted police two-day physical remand of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, hours after he was arrested for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution”.

Duty Magistrate Naveed Khan announced the reserved verdict, adjourning the hearing till January 27 (Friday). The investigating officer had sought eight-day physical remand of the former minister.

The former federal minister was taken into custody early Wednesday morning after a first information report (FIR) against him was registered at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station by an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “threatening” the electoral body’s members and their families.

Key developments:

  • Fawad arrested from outside his residence early Wednesday morning
  • FIR registered by ECP official at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution”
  • Lahore Cantt court allows police to take Fawad to Islamabad
  • Fawad says if criticism is rebellion then the entire nation should rebel; his wife calls on CJP to take suo motu notice of arrest
  • LHC dismisses plea challenging Fawad’s arrest
  • Islamabad court approves Fawad’s 2-day physical remand

According to Fawad’s brother, Faisal, the former federal minister was “taken away” in four cars that did not have any number plates at 5:30am. Faisal said that the family was unaware of Fawad’s location at the time.

“We are also not being given any details of the FIR registered against him,” he said. Faisal, who is also a prominent lawyer, termed his brother’s arrest “illegal” and asserted that he will fight this battle in court.

The PTI leader was later brought to Lahore’s Cantt court where the judicial magistrate granted police Fawad’s transit remand.

Later in the day, Islamabad police presented Fawad before Duty Magistrate Naveed Khan and sought his physical remand for eight days. The prosecutor told the court that authorities needed Fawad’s phone and his laptop, adding that the politician’s custody was required for conducting a photogrammetric test and a voice match.

During the hearing, ECP lawyer Saad Hasan read out the contents of the FIR. He contended that the PTI leader had termed the electoral watchdog to be a munshi (clerk).

The lawyer argued that the ECP was a constitutional body, adding that the regime change narrative had been formed under a well-thought out plan. “Fawad Chaudhry damaged the ECP’s reputation by making threatening statements.”

Hasan added that Fawad’s remarks were aimed at inciting one group against the other. He contended that the ECP had received many threatening letters. “The purpose of Fawad’s speech was to promote hatred against the commission.”

He further said that Fawad had not apologised for his remarks and was still standing by them, adding that there was a lot of “electronic proof” present against the politician.

On the other hand, the PTI leader requested the judge to dismiss the case registered against him, arguing that the FIR was not in accordance with the law.

“They have charged me with sedition for doing criticism. If this happens, then democracy and freedom of expression will cease to exist.”

He said that whatever he says is on the PTI’s behalf. “I am the party’s spokesperson. Whatever I say is my party’s policy. It is not necessary that what I say is my personal opinion.”

Fawad further said that he “was not making a speech and what giving a media talk”, adding that his remarks were “quoted incorrectly”.

The PTI leader said he was arrested in Lahore and his mobile phone was also seized. Later, he was handed over the Islamabad police.

“I am a senior lawyer, a parliamentarian and a spokesperson for the PTI. I am not a terrorist that I was detained in the Counter Terrorism Department,” he said, arguing that his arrest was illegal.

Fawad’s lawyers Ali Bukhari and Qaiser Imam also presented their arguments before the court.

Bukhari said that the FIR against Fawad should have been registered in Lahore. “According to the law, a case is registered where the alleged crime took place.”

For his part, Imam said the court needed to examine which charges were applicable in the case. He questioned whether a case could be registered at someone’s behest.

He further said that the remarks given by Fawad did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Kohsar police station. “Fawad did not make the remarks in Islamabad.”

After hearing the arguments, the judge reserved the verdict.

video message shared on PTI’s official Twitter account after the hearing, Fawad said that if criticism was rebellion then the entire nation should come out on the streets.

“They have registered this case on charges of contempt against the election commission […] this is their attitude and they expect us to not even criticise them.

“Rebellion is a duty. All the 220 million people in the country should come out and rebel against this system otherwise your children will suffer too,” he said.

“Today, Imran Khan and the PTI are standing up for your rights. We are going to jail but these handcuffs are like jewellery to us […] god willing, we will emerge victorious from these trials.

“But it is the nation’s job to come out and change the system,” Fawad added.

speech outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s house, threatened the ECP and said that “those who become part of the caretaker government [in Punjab] will be pursued until they are punished”.

Later in a tweet, the Islamabad police said that Fawad tried to “incite violence against a constitutional institution” and “inflame the sentiments of the people”.

It added that the case will be processed as per the law.

said Fawad had been taken to the counter-terrorism department’s regional office in Lahore, as PTI leader Ali Muhammad Khan said that he is not a terrorist.

Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Fawad’s arrest was a “strong slap on the face of democracy and rule of law”.

Ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari called the FIR registered against Fawad “ridiculous” and asked: “How is criticising ECP decisions and even ECP members a call to violence against their families? SC decisions are criticised but ECP decisions can’t be?”

PTI’s Ali Zaidi also strongly condemned the arrest of the senior party leader and said the government was “hell-bent on pushing this country towards anarchy!”

“Pakistan has become a lawless state at the hands of these lawbreaking lawmakers and corrupt law enforcement officers,” Zaidi tweeted.

On Tuesday night, a number of PTI supporters gathered outside the former premier’s Zaman Park residence after party leaders claimed that the government had formed plans to arrest Imran Khan.

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