Evidence emerges showing Imran instructed UK lawyers to approach UN, world courts

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By Webdesk

Former prime minister Imran Khan. — Reuters/Fileo
Former prime minister Imran Khan. — Reuters/Fileo
  • Instructions also included highlighting cases of other PTI leaders.
  • Prominent human rights lawyers hired to act Imran Khan’s behalf.
  • UK legal team is also investigating potential actions under universal jurisdiction.

LONDON: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan instructed British solicitor Rashad Yaqoob to seek legal recourse through the United Nations (UN) and international courts for his cases, an investigation conducted by Geo News showed Tuesday.

Yaqoob has also been instructed to lobby the UN and international bodies to intervene on his behalf at the international and domestic levels over the events following the May 9 violent militant attacks on Pakistan Army installations across the country, the evidence establishes.

The instructions to approach the UN and to raise funds for the legal work were passed most confidentially to Human Rights Legal Aid Foundation (HRLAF) CEO Rashad Yaqoob to hire leading English lawyers to take Imran Khan’s cases to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and other international forums, according to the evidence.

The instructions also included highlighting the cases of dozens of influential PTI leaders arrested over the May 9 attacks. They include Khadijah Shah, Dr Yasmin Rashid and Sanam Javed among others.

British solicitor Rashad Yaqoob. — By the reporter
British solicitor Rashad Yaqoob. — By the reporter

Geo News investigations have confirmed that HRLAF has been lawfully engaged with a significant number of clients starting with Imran Khan and several petitions to the United Nations, Parliamentary Union and other quasi-judicial bodies have already been filed.

Following the instructions, prominent human rights lawyers such as Michael Mansfield, KC, Gareth Pierce and Ben Emerson, KC, were hired to act on behalf of Imran Khan and others for alleged excesses by Pakistani institutions, including the secret agencies. The UK legal team, it is understood, is also investigating potential actions under universal jurisdiction.

On the weekend, PTI leaders, including PTI UK leaders, Sher Afzal Marwat, Zulfi Bukhari, Naeem Panjhota and others, criticised Rashad Yaqoob for launching a legal action and fundraising campaign for Imran Khan and taking his case to the UN through British lawyers.

However, our investigation confirms that the CEO of HRLAF, Rashad Yaqoob, was fully authorised with a Letter of Instruction (LOI) on behalf of Imran Khan and other top leaders in Pakistan. Rahsad Yaqoob diligently followed the relevant legal protocols required of solicitors working in the UK.

At least, three male and two female PTI leaders from Pakistan, considered very close to Imran Khan and acting for him, conveyed the instructions. All of them confirmed their participation but requested secrecy, stating their lives could be in danger if their names were revealed.

A flyer detailing HRLAF event — Photo by author
 A flyer detailing HRLAF event — Photo by author

Geo News has concluded its own independent review of correspondence, including an authorisation letter signed by senior Supreme Court Advocate Azher Siddique on August 5, 2023, confirming that he had issued a Letter of Instruction with the subject matter.

 “Unlawful arrest and conviction of Ex-PM Hon Imran Khan-Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf –Instruction for International Litigation assistance”.

In the letter, Siddique, who is now based in the UK, confirmed that “I am retained by Mr Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on multiple criminal defence matters in Pakistan. I confirm that I am authorised to represent Imran Khan (“Mr Khan”) personally and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (“PTI”).”

He instructed Rashad Yaqoob, CEO of HRLAF, “to initiate immediate and urgent international litigation to protect and defend the rights of Mr Khan, who has been arbitrarily convicted, arrested and detained following his recent trial in Islamabad.”

Records indicate that several meetings were held between HRLAF and Siddique in the UK Parliament and Lincoln’s Inn and pictures of these meetings were released. Azhar Siddique has been acting for and on behalf of Imran Khan and he has acted directly for Farah Gogi, the best friend of Bushra Bibi.

The correspondence from HRLAF proposed using professional UK political lobbying services to establish a fact-finding team to visit Pakistan and experience first-hand the current prison conditions and trial processes of Imran Khan and his associates. 

Yaqoob confirmed that “HRLAF would carry the costs of the litigation or obtain pro-bono assistance from his team, up to the fund launch as a personal commitment to Khan’s defence and right to fair trial.”

On the weekend, a row erupted when Imran Khan’s lawyers Naeem Panjhota, Zulfi Bukhari and other leaders threatened Rashad Yaqoob with legal action and said he had no relation with Imran’s legal efforts and suggested dismissing any instructions to represent Imran Khan, and any authorisation to fundraise for legal action.

Naeem Haider Panjutha, the legal aide of the PTI chief, said that Khan had not given any instructions to raise money for his legal team and no one was authorized.

“Beware, no such instructions have been given by @ImranKhanPTI to any of his authorised legal team members. It is also clarified that no one has been authorised by Imran Khan to collect funds in this regard. Therefore, it is clarified and declared that no one shall give any funding for the legal battles of Imran Khan either at the national level or in International forums. So please avoid,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Zulfi Bukhari said that PTI has not entered into any agreement with HRLAF. He said: “Let me make it categorically clear! Nor Imran Khan or PTI has ever instructed or appointed any legal team so far. Nor does anyone have any mandate from him or the party. PTI has absolutely nothing to do with this organisation or fundraising linked to it.”

When challenged about these allegations, Yaqoob, responded: “I would never act unless I have legal instructions as all legal formalities required in the UK are met. I take these false allegations very seriously. I am very upset that these reckless individuals seek to jeopardise chances of Khan and his other clients’ of reaching the international courts.”

“I would be deploying cease and desist letters from my panel lawyers and offer these individuals one final opportunity to retract and apologise. This is extremely serious business, and these individuals do not know what they are playing with.”

Rashad Yaqoob said he established HRLAF in 1999 to provide legal aid to human rights victims from Yemen, Bosnia, Chechnya, Syria, Palestine and Europe. 

The lawyer led the International Dispute Resolution legal team of former Pakistani Minister for Investments Senator Waqar Khan and his family when they were embroiled in a lengthy battle with Deutsche Bank (Suisse) about the alleged unlawful repossession of over £150m of property in Knightsbridge and Billionaires Row. He has also acted for Qatar Islamic Bank, Gulf Finance House and Kuwait Finance House.

Originally published in The News

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