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15 days after his arrest, IHC orders release of PTI’s Asad Umar

15 days after his arrest, IHC orders release of PTI’s Asad Umar

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ordered the release of PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, setting aside his detention order under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

The PTI leader was arrested on May 10, a day after violent protests broke out in the country following the arrest of ex-premier Imran Khan. Umar was taken into custody from the IHC premises and has been incarcerated at Adiala Jail since.

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb presided over the hearing during which PTI’s Babar Awan represented Umar.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Aurangzeb said, “They will not let you go until you hold a press conference”.

The comments appeared to be an apparent reference to the way in which PTI leaders have announced their decision to quit the party while also condemning the violence in the country on May 9.

The latest, and perhaps the most prominent, PTI leader to do so was ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari, who announced her decision to quit the party and active politics on Tuesday. The PTI chief has stated that people are being forced to leave his party “at gunpoint”.

In response to the remark, Awan told the court that his side would “not hold a press conference”.

The IHC judge, referring to two tweets by Umar on May 9, said, “There are two tweets. [At least], have them deleted immediately.”

Awan responded by saying that the court’s order would be obeyed. He also urged the court to issue orders for his client to be presented in the courtroom.

“The cases against Asad Umar are in front of me. If I issue an order, then I do not know what will happen tomorrow,” Justice Aurangzeb added.

Here, Awan told the court that he had also submitted a plea seeking details of the criminal cases against Umar as well a plea seeking protective bail.

“We want that we are granted two days so that in case he is released, we can surrender to the relevant court,” the lawyer said. He reiterated that his client was seeking protective bail.

The judge noted that PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was rearrested last night outside Adiala Jail, had also been directed to submit a declaration assuring that Section 144 would not be violated.

The IHC judge reiterated that the PTI leader must submit an undertaking condemning the May 9 violence and assuring that Section 144 would not be violated.

“If the undertaking is violated, then [Umar] can forget about his political career,” he said.

Separately, the IHC also heard a plea filed by PTI’s Qureshi seeking details of the cases registered against him. On Tuesday night, Qureshi was detained by the Punjab police shortly after he was released from jail on the IHC’s orders.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided over the hearing during which Qureshi’s lawyer Barrister Taimur Malik and Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Duggal were present.

At the outset of the hearing, Islamabad police told the court that they were unaware of Qureshi’s whereabouts.

But shortly after, the AAG told the court that the PTI leader was being held at Adiala Jail.

As the hearing progressed, Islamabad police submitted a report on the cases registered against Qureshi. The report said that eight cases had been registered against the ex-foreign minister: two were related to the May 9 violence while the remaining six were older cases.

Following the provision of the case details, the court disposed of the petition. “The petitioner can approach the relevant forum,” the IHC CJ said.

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