ISLAABAD: A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Wednesday granted police two-day physical remand of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, a day after he was arrested by police on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions.
Police were also directed to produce Gill before the court on August 12 (Friday), while the investigating officer was told to get the PTI leader medically examined.
Gill, who is PTI chief Imran Khan's chief of staff, was arrested from Banigala Chowk on Tuesday — an act that the PTI has termed as an "abduction".
The arrest came in the wake of the Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority issuing a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing controversial remarks by Gill, which the authority described as "highly hateful and seditious" and tantamount to inciting the "armed forces towards revolt".
On Wednesday, Gill was presented before Duty Magistrate Umar Bashir by Kohsar police, which submitted an application to the court for his physical remand.
Before the hearing began, police barred journalists from entering the courtroom, saying that it was the judge's instructions.
According to the court order the investigating officer sought Gill's physical remand for 14 days for further investigation "in respect of other persons allegedly involved in the commission of the offence".
The order said Gill's remand was also sought for the recovery of the "mobile phone allegedly used for the commission of the offence" for the purpose of voice matching through forensics, and to verify that "the interview given by the accused from the head office of the media house which is situated in Karachi".
Moreover, the order stated that the remand was sought for the "verification of the video from the media house".
Gill's lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, argued that there were no grounds for his client's physical remand as he had been in police custody for approximately 24 hours. He also told the court that his client had been tortured and requested a medical examination for Gill.
The court initially reserved its judgement on the police's application but later granted them two-day physical remand of the PTI leader.
Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, Gill said that there was nothing in his controversial remarks that caused embarrassment, adding that he was a patriot.
He also asserted that he did not try to instigate anyone. "Officers within the bureaucracy, who are saying the wrong thing, I talked about them," he said.
Meanwhile, his lawyer said that Gill's clothes were stained with blood and questioned where the PTI leader had been detained prior to being presented before the court.
Fawad hopes 'misunderstandings will resolve soon'
After Gill was remanded, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry expressed hope that "misunderstandings" pertaining to Gill's case would be soon resolved.
"Shahbaz Gill's words may be inappropriate, but words don't make [any person] a traitor," he tweeted in a response to journalist Ansar Abbasi asking whether any PTI leader had condemned Gill's remarks that "encouraged rebellion in the army" yet.
Chaudhry added that people like Gill were an "asset" to Pakistan and the army, adding that he was a "patriot".
In a subsequent tweet, he reiterated the hope of misunderstandings being resolved soon, saying that differences between the "country's largest political party and the institution that ensures national security were disastrous" for Pakistan.
"All-out efforts are being made for resolving misunderstandings," he said, adding that "political parties, too, should not go too far against each other.
"As a result of recent events, democarcy has weakened in the country and human rights have been violated."
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday had confirmed that Gill was arrested by Islamabad police "in accordance with the law" on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against the PTI leader on behalf of the state.
Sanaullah said that the case was registered on the complaint of Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio under Sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The interior minister claimed that PTI chief Imran Khan had been working on a "narrative" to "create divisions in the military" after realising that he had been "trapped" in the foreign funding case and Toshakhana Reference.
"To remove the public's attention from this, a narrative was formed in a meeting with Imran," he said. "[During the meeting] Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill were given the responsibility of spreading this narrative.
"A private news channel was also involved in this conspiracy," the minister said, referring to ARY News. Later, he tweeted that the "script" was prepared under Imran's supervision and propagated by Gill on ARY News.
Sanaullah also alleged that Gill's comments had proven that the PTI was responsible for running a negative social media campaign on the recent army helicopter crash in Balochistan.
"Their [the PTI's] social media was behind it [...] and now people, who have been caught, are spilling everything."
He said that the matter was "grave", warning that whoever was found guilty would be arrested, irrespective of their position.
A day ago, Pemra had issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were "highly hateful and seditious" remarks tantamount to "incite armed forces towards revolt".
The notice went on to say that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such "rank and file" support Imran Khan and his party "which is fuelling rage within the government".
He had also alleged that the "strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.
Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past "and they were at the government positions now".
"The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests," the watchdog stated.
"Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative."