PTI MNA, guard arrested as protests break out after Imran’s disqualification

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) MNA Saleh Muhammad Khan and his guard were arrested in Islamabad on Friday after the guard reportedly fired a shot outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Tense scenes were seen outside the ECP building after the electoral watchdog disqualified PTI chairman and former premier Imran Khan as it announced its verdict in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference.

As soon as the verdict was announced, PTI supporters and party workers began protesting the decision and workers present outside the ECP office shouted slogans in support of Imran Khan.

PTI MNA Saleh Muhammad was arrested from outside the ECP after protests broke out following Imran Khan's disqualification in the Toshakhana reference.#etribune #news #PTI #ECP
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) October 21, 2022

The Islamabad police reportedly detained firearms from a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) policeman who was later reported to be the guard of PTI MNA Saleh. As the weapon was being recovered a shot was fired.

The capital police claims the shot was fired by the K-P policeman and has arrested him.

Read 'Shameful': PTI reacts to Imran's disqualification in Toshakhana reference

The police later also arrested MNA Saleh. Reports of the police physically assaulting the arrested PTI workers have also surfaced.

PTI protests

Meanwhile, K-P Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra in a press conference denounced the ECP verdict and said that the party will challenge the decision in court.

"The ECP has no right to disqualify Imran Khan," said Jhagra, adding that "we will go to court against this verdict and the court will reinstate Imran Khan with utmost dignity".

He then went on to appeal to all workers in Peshawar to protest, stating that he would "personally lead the protest against the decision in Hayatabad Phase 3 Chowk".

The PTI also announced its decision to close off the Peshawar motorway (M1) in protest which was later opened for traffic under the directives of senior leadership, while others protested on Cinema Road and blocked the road leading to Lady Reading Hospital.

Special Assistant for Information Barrister Saif on the occasion deemed the verdict a case of "doctrine of necessity in action".

Read more SC refuses to restrain PTI’s long march

"The verdict is indicative of the results of the recent by-elections," said Barrister Saif. "The imported government has realized that it is impossible to defeat Imran Khan so instead of contesting the election field, they have disqualified Imran Khan," he added.

"The entire country has come out to the streets to protest the decision," he said, "no sane person accepts the verdict."

Besides Islamabad and Peshawar, PTI supporters also gathered in Lahore to protest the ECP verdict.

Earlier today, party leaders had directed workers to protest should the Toshakhana case decision come against Imran Khan.

Senior party leader and in-charge of the party's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa wing Pervez Khattak had shared an audio message with workers, stating that "if the decision is in favour of Imran Khan, then fine; otherwise if it is against [him] then there will be a strong protest at the district level".

Reflecting on the constitutional role of the ECP during a press conference today, senior PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that "a minus one formula will not be acceptable".

Toshakhana reference

A four-member ECP bench declared Imran Khan’s National Assembly seat vacant today as it unanimously decided that he had provided incorrect information in the case and disqualified him “for the time being”.

The verdict deseated Imran as per Article-63 (A) and ordered the initiation of criminal proceedings against him for submitting a false statement. However, the ECP did not delcare the deposed premier disqualified for life.

Also read CEC flags Imran’s win in recent by-polls

Toshakhana – a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division – stores precious gifts given to the heads of state, MPs, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states and foreign dignitaries.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts and other such material received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

The Toshakhana case hit the headlines last year, after the PIC accepted an application on the matter and directed the Cabinet Division to provide information about the gifts received by then prime minister Imran Khan from foreign dignitaries.

However, the Cabinet Division challenged the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) order in the IHC, claiming that it was "illegal". The then government took the position that the disclosure of any information related to Toshakhana might jeopardise Pakistan’s international relations.

Justice Aurangzeb had said that if the “information commission ordered that the information be provided to the citizen [also a petitioner in the case] then do it”, adding that “if someone had taken the gifts to their home, take them back”.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had later issued notices to the PIC and the citizen who sought details from the PIC about gifts received by then PM Imran.

In April this year, it was reported that during his tenure as the premier Imran and his wife, Bushra Bibi, retained all the 112 valuables worth Rs142.02 million gifted by different countries, either for free or purchased at a throwaway price of Rs38 million.

The official documents, available with APP, revealed that Imran and his wife retained 52 free gifts worth Rs800,200 "without paying a single penny".

The list of Toshakhana gifts received by ex-PM Imran between August 2018 and December 2021 remained a secret during his tenure, making the situation scandalous to reports of hiding the information from the tax authorities.

A reference seeking former premier Imran Khan's disqualification was then filed with the ECP by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on August 4, 2022.

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