Pakistan court grantss bail Imran Khan’s close aide in sedition case

Islamabad: A high court in Pakistan on Thursday granted bail to former prime minister Imran Khan’s close aide Shehbaz Gill in a sedition case.

Gill was arrested on August 9 after he made controversial remarks during a TV interview where he urged officers of the army to disobey the orders of their seniors.

He had filed a plea for bail with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after junior courts rejected his bail applications. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah presided over the hearing.

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Gill’s counsel Salman Safdar argued that the case against him was registered under malicious intent and was politically motivated. “Investigation has been completed, the entire case was based on one speech,” he said.

The chief justice first grilled the lawyer over his client’s reported uttering against the armed forces but he relented when the counsel read a transcript of Gill’s speech and argued that his statements were exaggerated by the petitioner who, he further argued, was not even the affected party.

“The armed forces are not so weak that someone’s irresponsible statements would affect them,” remarked Justice Minallah. However, he added that “in no way could Gill’s irresponsible statements be justified”.

The court inquired the special prosecutor, Raja Rizwan Abbasi, whether “the investigation revealed if Gill had contacted a soldier to instigate mutiny”.

“Not one but all soldiers were instigated by Gill,” responded Abbasi. “Whether mutiny takes place or not, the inciting of anger through rhetoric is the equivalent of attempting mutiny.”

The judge was not convinced and ruled that “no solid evidence” was available against Gill to deny the bail. While granting bail, the judge directed him to furnish PKRs 500,000 surety bond.

He also asked the prosecution to build a stronger case and continue its investigation.

Gill’s case made headlines after Imran Khan alleged that he was sexually abused and physically tortured.

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