ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday expressed “deep regrets” over remarks he made last month about a female judge that prompted the Islamabad High Court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him.
Last week, a five-judge panel headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah gave Khan until Sept. 8 to answer the charges. The bench asked the former premier to submit a written response, explaining his angry comments against the judge, Zeba Chaudhry.
In his previous written response, Khan had denied threatening the judge during an address to a rally, offering to take his words back if they were “inappropriate.” A police report of the rally quoted Khan as saying he “would not spare” Islamabad’s police chief and the judge.
“The respondent (Khan) takes this opportunity to express his deep regrets over his unintentional utterances during the course of his speech at the rally which was taken out in response to shocking news of physical torture of Mr. Shahbaz Gill,” Khan’s response, submitted by his lawyer, read.
Gill, a senior leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and the cricketer-turned-politician’s chief of staff, is in jail for controversial remarks in which he asked army officers not to follow their top command’s orders if they were “against the sentiments of the masses.”
Khan and Gill both claim he was subjected to physical and mental torture as well as sexual abuse in police custody. Police and prison authorities have denied the allegations.
The ex-PM, who came into power in 2018 and was ousted in April in a no-confidence vote in parliament, could be disqualified for life from politics if convicted of insulting Chaudhry.
“The respondent never meant to hurt her (Chaudhry’s) feelings and if her feelings have been hurt, it is deeply regretted,” Khan’s statement added.
Khan requested the court to discharge him from the case, citing the Islamic principles of forgiveness and restraint and also on the basis of his claim that he was “not aware” that he was commenting on a sub judice matter. He said he believed in the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution.
“It is submitted that the courts have always recognized and followed the Islamic principles of forgiveness and restraint. The respondent beseeches that the said Islamic principle of forgiveness would also be followed in this case,” his statement read.
The court has yet to decide on Khan’s supplementary response.