Pakistan’s apex election body on Tuesday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against former prime minister Imran Khan in a contempt case.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against former Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry for the same offence.
The ECP filed a case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Khan and former party leaders Chaudhry and Asad Umar last year for allegedly using “intemperate” language against the election watchdog body and its chief, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). Contempt proceedings were initiated.
The arrest warrant order against Khan and Chaudhary was passed by a four-member ECP bench headed by member Nisar Durrani after both the PTI leaders failed to appear before it on Tuesday despite several warnings.
However, Mr Umar was spared when his lawyer told the ECP that his client had to attend to another matter and requested an exemption from appearing for a medical appointment.
The Election Commission accepted the request and directed the lawyer to submit a formal petition in this regard, but issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Khan and Chowdhary and adjourned the hearing to 25 July.
The ECP had asked the PTI leaders to appear in person or through their counsel to explain their position, but instead, they challenged the ECP notices and contempt proceedings in higher courts.
After protracted proceedings, in January the Supreme Court allowed the ECP to continue proceedings against Mr. Khan, Mr. Chaudhary and Mr. Omar. Thereafter, the ECP decided to frame charges against him.
Mr Khan, 70, has been facing multiple cases in various courts since he was ousted from power in April last year.
Mr. Chaudhary, once a staunch supporter of Khan, quit PTI on May 9 following violence by party supporters.
Violent protests broke out across the country on 9 May after PTI chief Khan was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court.
The government subsequently launched a massive crackdown against PTI leaders and activists, arresting thousands of people for attacking civilian and military installations.
Mr Khan’s supporters vandalized a dozen military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander’s House, the Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad, in response to Khan’s arrest.
The mob also attacked the Army Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi for the first time.
Police put the death toll in the violent clashes at 10, while Khan’s party claimed 40 of its workers were killed in firing by security personnel.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV Staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)