Punjab Advocate General (AAG) Chaudhry Muhammad Jawad Yaqub on Wednesday told the Lahore High Court (LHC) that PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry — who was arrested earlier today for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution” — was in the custody of the Islamabad police.
He made the revelation during the hearing of a petition challenging Fawad’s arrest.
- 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
- LHC directs police to present Fawad in court
- Fawad’s wife calls on CJP to take suo motu notice of arrest
- Imran to address press conference at 4pm
- LHC summons IGs of Punjab and Islamabad in court by 6pm
- Punjab government tells LHC Fawad is in the custody of Islamabad police
The former federal minister was taken into custody early Wednesday morning after an 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.
According to Fawad’s brother, the former federal minister was “taken away” in four cars that did not have any number plates at 5:30am. Faisal Chaudhry 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.
Later, the PTI leader was brought to Lahore’s Cantt where the judicial magistrate granted police Fawad’s transit remand.
Separately, a petition was filed in the LHC by Advocate Muhammad Ahmad Pansota against the arrest. The application — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — named the Punjab government, provincial police officer, counter terrorism department, deputy inspector general of police (operation) and station house officer of Defence A as respondents in the case.
It said that the PTI leader was apprehended “illegally, unconstitutionally and without legal authority” and demanded that police officials should be directed to recover Fawad from the “illegal and unlawful confinement” and produce him before the high court.
At the outset of the hearing today, which was presided by Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, the court instructed the police to present Fawad in court by 1:30pm.
However, when the proceedings resumed at 2pm, AAG Yaqub said that he was not in the position to tell where Fawad was.
On the other hand, PTI lawyer Azhar Siddique told the court that they had just learnt that Fawad was being taken to Islamabad.
“The orders that I give, I make sure they are implemented,” Justice Sheikh said here. “Even if he [Fawad] has reached Islamabad, bring him back and present him before the court.”
In his response, the AAG said that he will ensure that the court’s orders were executed and sought some time.
Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned for 30 minutes.
When the hearing resumed, the AAG said that Fawad was in the custody of the Islamabad police after which the judge summoned the inspector generals of Islamabad and Punjab to court.
“The IGs of Islamabad and Punjab should appear in the court by 6pm,” Justice Sheikh said and instructed the LHC registrar to immediately communicate the orders to them.
PTI claims Fawad being taken to Islamabad
Meanwhile, in a tweet, PTI leader Hammad Azhar claimed that Fawad was being transported to Islamabad via the motorway “in clear defiance of the high court’s orders”.
Farrukh Habib shared a video which, according to him, was from Kala Shah Kaku. In the video, he can be seen trying to stop the convoy that was taking Chaudhry. He can be seen repeatedly shouting “obey the orders of the court” and banging the hood of a pickup.
Habib could also be seen yelling at one of the passengers inside the pickup. He was then stopped by law enforcement officials and at one point attempted to stop the car from moving by coming in front of it.
Cantt court allows police to take Fawad to Islamabad
At 10am, Fawad was brought to Lahore’s Cantt court by officials of the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department and police. Upon his entrance, PTI lawyers showered rose petals on Fawad.
Talking to the media outside the court, Fawad said that those who arrested him should be ashamed of themselves.
“They have deployed so much police as if they are escorting James Bond,” he said, adding that the police kept him in the “category of terrorists”.
As the hearing began, the investigating officer requested the court to grant Islamabad police the PTI leader’s transit remand.
For his part, Fawad asked the judge to provide him with a copy of the FIR registered against him. He went on to say that he was proud of the charges against him. “These allegations were also levelled at Nelson Mandela.”
“It is being said that I have committed sedition […] I am a former Supreme Court lawyer and federal minister […] I should be treated with respect,” he told the court.
The PTI leader said that the way he was arrested was “inappropriate”. “Had they called me, I would have come myself.”
Commenting on his remarks against the ECP, he said that “the entire country is saying the same”.
Meanwhile, Fawad’s lawyer said a habeas corpus petition — a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention — filed by Fawad was pending in the Lahore High Court. “Until a decision is taken on that, a transit remand can’t be granted.”
Here, the judicial magistrate instructed the police to conduct a medical examination of Fawad at the Lahore Services Hospital and present him before a court in Islamabad today.
‘Come out against this system’
In a 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.
A first information report has been registered against the PTI leader at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad on the complaint of Secretary of the Election Commission Umar Hameed.
The complaint — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — invokes sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code at Islamabad’s Kohsar Police Station.
It stated that Fawad, in a 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.
Fawad’s wife calls on CJP to take suo motu notice of arrest
Meanwhile, Fawad’s wife Hiba Chaudhry has called on the chief justice of Pakistan to take a suo motu notice of his arrest.
In a press conference alongside PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Zulfi Bukhari in Islamabad, she said: “The way they took Fawad in the middle of the night […] this is absolutely unacceptable and wrong.
“We don’t know what they have done with them […] whether they have subjected them with torture or if he was blindfolded […] we have no clue. I just want to request the CJP to take a suo motu notice of this.”
Hiba went on to say that Fawad was a national leader and it was his democratic right to be treated in a constitutional manner.
“Today, I am asking the prime minister and Punjab’s caretaker chief minister as well […] please take up this case on merit and send him home as soon as possible,” she added.
During the media talk, Mazari said that Fawad’s brother, Faraz Chaudhry, was also arrested by the police in Jhelum today. Separately, some videos — showing police baton-charging and arresting a group of people — also started doing the rounds on social media. Dawn.com is attempting to independently verify the video.
Condemning Fawad’s arrest, PTI chairman Imran Khan said that he will be holding a media talk at 4pm today.
“Fawad’s arrest on his apt description of the CEC leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pak has become a banana republic devoid of rule of law,” he tweeted.
Imran added that the nation “must stand up for our fundamental rights now to save Pak’s drift towards a point of no return”.
PTI leader Asad Umar said Chaudhry was “innocent” and he must be released forthwith.
“You must respond to his argument in the same manner rather than using force,” Umar said in a reference to the government while talking to reporters in Lahore this noon. He said the government’s move will rebound on it while the PTI will be the ultimate beneficiary.
Hammad Azhar claimed “police officers pointed their rifles at me and threatened me to back off” when he, along with party leaders, were following the motorcade of the law enforcers.
Condemning the arrest, PTI leader Farrukh Habib said: “This imported government has gone berserk.”
Meanwhile, former federal minister Hammad Azhar 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.