A local court in Islamabad Saturday sent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry on a two-day physical remand in a sedition case. Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja announced the verdict after a district and sessions court accepted the Islamabad Police’s petition overturning a decision that sent the former minister on judicial remand and rejected Fawad’s plea to discharge him from the sedition case, a private TV channel reported. In the verdict issued Saturday, the judicial magistrate ordered the Islamabad Police to produce the former federal information minister before his court on Monday (January 30) upon the expiry of his remand. The PTI leader was brought to court with a black cloth covering his head on directives issued by Additional Sessions Judge Tahir Mehmood Khan who said the appearance of a suspect in the court was mandatory in cases where investigators seek a physical remand. Concurrently, another hearing on the PTI leader’s petition seeking post-arrest bail was also underway at a local court. The two cases were heard separately at different courts located in close proximity at the F-8 Kacheri (a judicial complex for district courts). As the PTI leader was brought to the court, his defence attorney Babar Awan questioned the merits of the case and insisted his client did not say anything that would pose a security risk to the country. “The entire PTI has similar views that Fawad Chaudhry said in his statement,” Awan told the court. He said the PTI leader did not flee the country on the pretext of health. In his statement before the court, Chaudhry said he was not retracting his remarks. “It is tantamount to endangering democracy in the country if freedom of expression is denied,” he told the court. The PTI leader said he had acknowledged his statement, adding: “It is my right.” He said gagging freedom of expression was akin to turning Pakistan into a country like Myanmar. “It will not be a democracy if the people are forced to stop criticising the powerful.” Chaudhry said he stood by his statement and would not backtrack on it. “How can I withdraw from calling the ECP a munshi (clerk)? Respect is earned by one’s actions, and it cannot be forcefully demanded.” He called on his rivals to not take charge of important positions if they were not willing to accept criticism. Speaking to media outside the court, Chaudhry’s wife Hiba said she was not being allowed to meet her husband despite the court’s orders. “I request Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi to allow my daughters to meet their father,” she said. She also called out Punjab and Islamabad police officials for their alleged highhandedness in dealing with her family. Hiba said she was ready to file a petition “if that is the only way my children and I can meet Fawad”. Earlier, the court summoned the prosecutor and asked him to read out the petition seeking the extension in the physical remand of the PTI leader. Prosecutor Adnan said it was necessary to take Chaudhry to Lahore for a “photogrammetric test”. “We also need access to the suspect’s electronic gadgets including his mobile phone and laptop to determine other elements who connived with him.” He urged the court to set aside the judicial magistrate’s order and grant an extension in the physical remand of the ex-minister. The prosecutor insisted that there was ample “electronic material” available against Chaudhry. Awan rued that his client was being deprived of his fundamental right to meet his family and legal team. He cited a case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and said Chaudhry was denied the provision that the mother of the convicted Indian naval official was given. Awan said his client could not be produced despite the court orders. He also opposed the police request seeking to take Chaudhry to Lahore, saying “it is not a video leak case” to determine the physical features of the detainee. He claimed that multiple sections of the police rules were allegedly violated in the FIR filed against Chaudhry. He added that the case was registered online. “This is a fraud and they think people are fools,” said Awan.