ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court on Saturday acquitted a female leader of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party following her arrest last month on charges of inciting people to target the official residence of a top general in Lahore who stormed the building and set it on fire.
The incident took place on May 9 when Khan was arrested from the Islamabad High Court on corruption charges, leading to violent protests in various parts of the country. Hundreds of people vandalized government buildings which also included sensitive military installations.
The development was followed by audio leaks of PTI leaders, suggesting the senior party members were instigating their supporters to target state properties.
Former Punjab health minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid, who is known for her loyalty to Khan, was also accused of provoking people on the basis of a recorded phone conversation, though she maintained her audio clip had been “doctored” to falsely implicate her in the case.
“Investigating Officer has requested for 14-day physical remand of Yasmin Rashid for Photogrammetry, Voice Match Tests and recovery of mobile phones etc. whereas perusal of record reveals that neither Dr. Yasmin Rashid is nominated in FIR [police complaint] nor involved through supplementary statement and she was summoned in this case on the disclosure of co-accused which has no evidentiary value in the eye of law,” said the court while announcing its decision.
“Since no incriminating material is available on record to connect her with the commission of offence, therefore, request of Investigating Officer is turned down and she is accordingly discharged from instant case,” it added. “She be released forthwith, if not required in any other case.”
The police and caretaker administration of Punjab said they had arrested people involved in vandalism through scientific means, including facial recognition and geofencing.
The former prime minister’s party questioned the arrests of its leaders and supporters after Rashid’s release, saying they had been thrown into prison on fake cases.
“Who will be punished for keeping thousands of PTI workers, including Dr. Yasmin Rashid, in jail for 24 days in a false case and spreading false propaganda in the media,” the PTI asked in a Twitter post.
It added that Rashid was an elderly woman who had survived cancer and spent her whole career as a medical practitioner saving people’s lives.
Khan has denied in the past that his party members were involved in the violent May 9 protests while pointing a finger at intelligence agencies for orchestrating the mayhem to justify a crackdown on his party.