Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, the spokesperson for PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, was granted pre-arrest interim bail by a sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday along with PPP Islamabad chapter President Raja Shakeel.
On Wednesday, the Secretariat Police Station had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Khokhar, Shakeel as well as 20 others for rioting and attacking police officials during Bilawal and Asif Ali Zardari’s appearance before NAB Rawalpindi earlier the same day.
The FIR was registered under Section 147 (punishment for rioting), Section 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions), Section 149 (unlawful assembly), Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), Section 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) and Section 353 (assault) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
As per the FIR, in addition to the above, there were about 40 to 50 others who had also committed the offences but managed to escape from the scene.
Scores of charged supporters gathered outside the bureau’s office on Wednesday to receive their leaders had scuffled with security personnel.
The PPP claimed dozens of its workers were arrested and 10 suffered injuries as police cracked down. Law enforcement officials said six of their personnel were injured as the protesters threw rocks and scuffled with the security.
Senator Khokhar himself was seen in one widely circulated video accosting a policeman and roughing him up before his supporters led him away.
Following the session court’s decision, Khokhar issued a statement saying that the cases registered against him and other party workers “were like medals”.
Having secured bail for himself, he said the dozens of arrested PPP workers sent to Adiala Jail will have their bail applications heard tomorrow.
The PPP chairman’s spokesperson also accused Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi for threatening “state coercion” during Bilawal and Zardari’s next appearance at the NAB office.
“The interior minister should collect his state power: the [PPP’s] workers are ready to face it,” Khokhar said.
He claimed that workers from across the country will come “to express solidarity with their leaders” in their next appearance before the accountability courts.
“[PPP] workers from across the country will respond to state coercion through democratic means,” the senator said, adding that the government can “try” to use state coercion and strength against the people.
“Those who attacked parliament, PTV and jails are giving us a lesson in political ethics,” the spokesperson said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as more than half of the cabinet, had remained “fugitives” in cases pertaining to attacks on state institutions.
“We respect the institutions but we are not ones to bow in the face of pressure,” he said.
Bilawal, while addressing a press conference following Wednesday’s showing, had strongly condemned police ‘highhandedness’ and said he had not given any call to the party workers to turn up during his visit to the NAB office.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry contradicted him, saying PPP leaders had called the party workers to “attack NAB headquarters” in a bid to thwart proceedings against the party’s leaders.