A banking court in Islamabad on Thursday extended pre-arrest bail till Jan 31 but directed PTI Chairman Imran Khan to appear before the investigation officer in the prohibited funding case [also known as foreign funding case].
His lawyers had move the court in an attempt to get orders to stop the FIA from arresting Imran in the case pertaining to financial irregularities in the party’s funding.
The banking court judge, Rakhshanda Shaheen, rejected the plea to interrogate the former premier at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and remarked, “The investigation officer (IO) can hold probe wherever and however he wants.” The court would not interfere, she added.
She also asked Imran’s lawyer to assist the court with why shouldn’t it reverse the interim bail and directed the PTI chairman to join the probe to ensure his presence before the investigation officer under any circumstances while adjourning the hearing till January 31.
The directives were issued as the court announced a reserved verdict on the plea for an extension in pre-arrest bail.
During the proceedings, Special Prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi requested the court to reject the former premier’s plea and argued that Imran had been politically active since the assassination bid on his life during PTI’s long march rally in Wazirabad in November.
“He is running the political affairs but doesn’t appear in the court,” Abbasi said while requesting the court to reject his plea for exemption.
Abbasi said Imran neither appeared in the court nor joined the probe, asking the court to tell the investigation officer to visit the PTI chief at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
When asked about the reason for Khan’s absence from investigation, his lawyer said there were many reasons he couldn’t appear before the investigation officer despite “his willingness”.
He said his client was injured in an assassination attempt and he would appear before the investigation officer as soon as the doctors allowed him.
At this, the prosecutor maintained that the investigation officer could not go to Lahore for interrogation. “Imran Khan appears on TV but not in the courts,” Rizwan.
Prohibited funding case
The FIA had launched a countrywide investigation into the funds from prohibited sources by PTI after an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) August 2022 ruling that the party secured illegal donations.
The case — earlier referred to as a “foreign funding” case — was filed in November 2014 when the party’s founding member Akbar S Babar alleged gross financial irregularities in the party’s funding from both Pakistan and abroad.