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Senior Pakistani opposition leader Fawad Chaudhry jailed ahead of trial

Senior Pakistani opposition leader Fawad Chaudhry jailed ahead of trial

Senior Pakistani opposition leader Fawad Chaudhry jailed ahead of trial
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By PTI Jan 27, 2023 4:16:26 PM IST (Updated)

The arrest of Fawad further deepens political fault lines in Pakistan where the Khan-led opposition is demanding snap polls.

A Pakistani court on Friday sent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party senior leader Fawad Chaudhry to jail for two weeks over allegations that he threatened the chief of the elections oversight body and other government officials.

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Authorities had arrested the senior ally of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday hours after he publicly censured the government for scheming to arrest party chairman Imran Khan.
The Dawn newspaper reported that the Islamabad district and sessions court sent Fawad, 52, to the high-security Adiala jail on a 14-day judicial remand in the case over alleged incitement of violence against a constitutional institution.
Fawad, a close aide of ousted prime minister Khan, was taken into custody from his residence in Lahore after a case was registered against him at Kohsar Police Station on the complaint of the Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The court on Wednesday night had granted police an initial two-day physical remand of Fawad, hours after he was arrested.
The ECP’s plea for an extension to Fawad’s physical remand was heard by Judge Raja Waqas Ahmed on Friday.
At the hearing, the election commission’s lawyer Saad Hassan, the prosecutor in the case, informed the court that the PTI leader’s voice matching had been completed.
He requested an extension in remand, saying that Fawad had to be taken to Lahore for a photogrammetric test.
The prosecutor contended before the court that the former federal minister incited hatred against a constitutional institution.
“Fawad is trying to create unrest,” he said. “The statement threatens the lives of the election commission’s workers.” The ECP lawyer argued that an extension to the PTI leader’s remand was imperative to carry out further investigation in the case.
“A day had already passed when the remand was approved at 12am,” the investigation officer said.
The ECP lawyer told the court that Fawad’s statement was available on record, adding that the PTI leader had also acknowledged his speech. “No one can object to the speech. “The accused has accepted his statement.” At this, Fawad’s counsel Babar Awan accused the election commission of colluding with the government against PTI.
“We are being blamed and pressured,” he said.
The ECP lawyer responded that Fawad was a senior politician but “no one is above the law”.
He told the court that it was mandatory to search his home. “It is important to recover Fawad’s laptop and mobile phone in his presence,” he said.
“Fawad’s statement is not one person’s statement but an entire group’s narrative,” the ECP lawyer said.
“A campaign has not only been launched against the ECP but also against the top officials of the election commission,” said.
Separately, a bail application was filed by Fawad on the argument that the case against him was based on “mala fide intention” and “ulterior motives”, and filed “only to harass, pressurise (sic) and blackmail” him. It adds that the allegations levelled in the FIR were “absolutely false, frivolous and baseless”.
“The petitioner was arrested illegally, unlawfully and without any justification in negation to the law and constitutional rights of the petitioner.”
An official PTI Twitter account also posted videos, showing a convoy of police vehicles which the party claimed was carrying Chaudhry after his arrest.
“This imported government has gone berserk,” PTI leader Farrukh Habib tweeted.
The arrest of Fawad, 52, came amidst rumours that the government may arrest PTI chief and former premier Khan.
Fawad’s arrest comes after he, along with scores of party workers, gathered outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore, claiming to avert the government’s alleged plan to arrest the party chief.
The arrest of Fawad further deepens political fault lines in Pakistan where the Khan-led opposition is demanding snap polls.
General elections in Pakistan are due after August. However, Khan is demanding snap polls.
“He (Chaudhry) was taken away from outside his house at 5:30 am in four cars that did not have any number plates,” Faisal Chaudhry, the PTI leader’s brother, was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
He said that the family was unaware of Fawad’s current location.
“We are also not being given any details of the FIR (first information report) registered against him.” The FIR stated that Fawad, in a speech outside Khan’s house, threatened 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.
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