From Abid Usman
Lahore: Lahore police on Friday added Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 in the FIR against PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, her husband retired captain Muhammad Safdar and party workers in a case relating to a clash outside the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) Lahore office.
Safdar appeared before an anti-terrorism court today and obtained interim bail till September 11. The court also sought a record of the cases against the PML-N leader from the police.
In his bail application, Safdar said police had registered a “false and baseless” case against him, adding that his nomination in the case was politically motivated.
In a tweet, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif termed the addition of terrorism charge in the FIR against PML-N leaders and workers as “highly condemnable”.
The move “shows how coward and insecure Niazi government is. PTI is brazenly promoting the politics of vendetta and revenge,” Sharif said, referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Sessions court rejects bail application
Earlier today, a Lahore sessions court rejected Safdar’s bail application in the same case.
During the hearing, Chung police submitted a report to the court which stated that officials had added Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 to the FIR against Maryam, Safdar and party workers.
The public prosecutor argued that after inclusion of terror charges, only an anti-terrorism court could hear the case. Meanwhile, Safdar’s lawyer argued that including terrorism charges in a politically motivated case was “alarming” and urged the court to remove the clauses and accept his client’s bail application.
In a written order, the court observed that the petitioner claimed the case was “malafide” as the investigating officer had added terror clauses without collecting evidence.
The court also noted that the public prosecutor had submitted that after the insertion of Section 7, the court had no jurisdiction to grant bail.
“It is also argued that CCTV footage and other material collected by the IO suggest the accused, after due deliberation, attacked the NAB office.
“After addition of the offence, which are triable exclusively by special court constituted under the Anti-Terrorism Act, this court cannot confirm the pre-arrest bail granted to the petitioner,” the court order said.
In August, violence erupted outside NAB’s Lahore office as heavy police contingents and PML-N workers confronted each other shortly after Maryam’s arrival in a land acquisition investigation.
Many people, including some officials, were injured and around 50 men were rounded up after police fired tear gas besides hurling stones back at the activists, with each side blaming the other for triggering the clash.
Later, police had booked 300 PML-N workers, including Maryam and 187 other nominated people, for attacking law enforcers and NAB personnel and damaging the anti-graft watchdog’s building.
The FIR was registered under section 147 (punishment for rioting), section 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), section 290 (punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), section 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), section 440 (mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt), section 109 (punishment of abetment), section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and section 86 (offence requiring a particular intent or knowledge committed by one who is intoxicated) of the Pakistan Penal Code.