ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s aide, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, was released from jail on Wednesday after a sessions court in Islamabad granted him bail a week after he was arrested in a case involving charges of sedition, among others, filed by the country’s election regulator.
The former information minister was arrested in Lahore last Wednesday after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lodged a complaint with Islamabad police, saying the leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had “threatened” members of the regulator as well as their families and issued remarks during a TV interview that were tantamount to inciting violence against them.
On Monday, a local court sent Hussain to jail on 14-day judicial remand, after which his lawyers filed a post-arrest bail petition with the judicial magistrate of Islamabad. The ECP’s counsel requested the court to adjourn the hearing of Hussain’s bail plea until February 2 to prepare arguments on the plea, but the request was rejected.
Both parties subsequently had to appear before the sessions court today, Wednesday, after which Additional Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gillani granted bail to the PTI leader against Rs20,000 worth of surety bonds.
Upon his release from Adiala jail, Hussian was garlanded with roses as party workers chanted slogans in his favor.
"What will be left of Pakistan's politics after you minus Imran Khan," he told reporters "Who wants to fight with institutions? Which country can run without institutions? When the institutions and the people are on the same page, then only can countries function," he added.
In its order earlier, the sessions court said Hussain should be released if he is not involved in any other cases.
“In the case mentioned above, bail has been granted to the accused. Therefore, if he is not involved in any other cases, then he should be released after the verification of the surety bonds and must be informed about the date of the next hearing,” the court’s order said.
According to local media reports, the judge said Hussain’s bail was being approved on the condition that he “does not issue such remarks in the future.”
In recent months, Khan and his party have been at loggerheads with the ECP and its current leadership, which they blame for being biased in favor of the coalition government of PM Shehbaz Sharif government. The ECP denies this. The ECP has also ruled against Khan in a case late last year related to his disclosure of wealth earned from the sale of state gifts.
Hussain’s arrest comes months after another close Khan aide, Dr. Shahbaz Gill, was arrested by police and accused of inciting mutiny against the military. Gill is out on bail. Another PTI leader, Senator Azam Swati, was also arrested and released on bail in multiple cases, including for posting tweets considered to be anti-military.
Khan says the PTI and its leaders are being subjected to a political crackdown by the Sharif government and the army, with whom the party has fallen out recently. Both deny the charge.