LHC orders Elahi’s release, instructs inquiry into arrest

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered authorities to immediately release former Punjab chief minister Pervez Elahi on Friday, instructing for an inquiry to be conducted into his arrest in violation of court orders.

The court also instructed authorities not to arrest Elahi in any pending case.

During the proceedings earlier today, the court warned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that an arrest warrant would be issued for the watchdog’s director general if former chief minister Pervez Elahi was not produced before the court within one hour.

Expressing displeasure over NAB and the provincial government’s conduct, Justice Amjad Rafiq remarked that the high court is being undermined. “Stop playing ping-pong with the court.”

The province’s top court had directed the accountability watchdog twice to produce Elahi in court, but NAB failed to do so on one pretext or another.

During the proceedings today, Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nihung initiated his argument by stating that they could not obtain the court order passed on Thursday and then read a letter from the provincial caretaker government, wherein the court was informed that the armed forces and the Punjab Police were busy with anti-terrorism operations.

He further said that armoured vehicles are also not available and added that the CTD had reported that there are threats to the lives of the politicians, including Elahi’s.

The NAB prosecutor then informed the court that NAB is ready to produce Elahi if the provincial government ensures proper provision of security.

After hearing the statements made by the law officer and the NAB counsel, Justice Rafiq stated that an “all-out” effort is being made to undermine the court.

In reply, the accountability watchdog’s counsel stated that if security issues are not resolved, the move to produce Elahi would be “risky”, but even then, the bureau is prepared to follow the orders of the court.

The LHC was hearing a petition filed by the former chief executive of the province challenging his arrest by the accountability watchdog.

Elahi has claimed in his petition that his arrest is a violation of the LHC’s earlier order, barring the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), FIA, NAB and Punjab Police from arresting him in any known or unknown case registered against his person.

A day earlier, Justice Rafiq termed the repeated arrests of the senior PTI leader “drama” and expressed his displeasure over the issuance of detention orders and the registration of multiple First Information Reports against Elahi.

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