ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has withdrawn a legal response to a defamation notice that appeared to be praising former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Imran’s lawyer Hamid Khan, who is also a member of the PTI, said he was withdrawing the letter on the instructions of his client.
“I will not pursue this matter until I get new instructions from the Chairman,” he told Dawn.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran, who has led thousands of protesters for anti-government demonstrations in Islamabad, blames former top judge Iftikhar Chaudhry of involvement in election rigging in the 2013 polls.
The former chief justice sent a Rs20 million defamation notice to the PTI chairman on July 24.
However, in a written response to the libel notice which was circulated by the media on Monday, Imran’s lawyers said he did not mean to “abuse or disrespect any member of the judiciary”, and urged the former chief justice to “reconsider the idea of entering into personal litigation”.
The emergence of the letter prompted the PTI chairman to react quickly in an effort to publicly distance himself from its contents. Imran said he stood by the allegations he leveled against Iftikhar Chaudhry, while his aides claimed the lawyer drafted the letter without consulting with Imran.
Sources in the PTI told Dawn that the party chairman had decided to withdraw the letter as it was written on Aug 2, much before former additional secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan Afzal Khan also leveled similar allegations against Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Another reason for withdrawing it was poor handling of the letter in the media, where its emergence appeared to show that Imran was apologising to the ex-CJ, sources said.
Imran also reacted to the letter after the former chief justice responded by calling his allegations “baseless and a pack lies”.