ISLAMABAD - Close legal aides of Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan have advised him to get himself cleared from all criminal cases pending with the courts before next general elections otherwise these would keep on haunting him.

It was because of the advice of close legal advisers of PTI chief that forced him to instantly appear before an anti-terrorism court in connection with the cases in which he had been declared a pro-claimed offender, The Nation has learned.

Imran Khan on last Tuesday surrendered to the anti-terrorism court (ATC) of Islamabad in four cases registered against him during the sit-ins of 2014. Before this, Imran had been publicly challenging the cases registered against him, saying that these were politically-motivated cases.

On these grounds, Imran had refused to appear before the court despite the fact that the court not only issued his non-bailable arrest warrants but also declared him a pro-claimed offender.

Well-placed sources within PTI told The Nation that the legal team of the major opposition party, including Dr Babar Awan, Fawad Chaudhry and Faisal Chaudhry have suggested to the party chief that it was the right time that he should face all the pending cases before the courts as the general elections were approaching fast. They were of the view that PTI chief should get a clean chit from the courts otherwise they would keep on haunting them during the next general elections. They advised Imran that he would face difficulties while submitting his nomination papers before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as a pro-claimed offender.

Similarly, the legal team of PTI had also advised Imran to submit before the ECP in a case of contempt of court. PTI’s legal team wants that party should pursue all cases before the courts and the commission legally instead of registering their protest publicly only, a senior PTI leader commented.

Similarly, the other senior leadership of PTI including its Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Secretary General Jahangir Khan Tareen, Dr Shireen Mazari, Asad Umar would surrender before the court under the decision of the party. They were absconding from the court for the last two years.

PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said that Imran was not appearing before the courts as these were politically-motivated cases and they were registering their protest by not appearing in the courts . “Now this has become indispensible to adopt legal course as general elections are fast approaching,” he said adding that it might not be possible for the party chief to contest next elections as a proclaimed offender.

In November 2015, the ATC had issued non-bailable warrants for Imran Khan’s arrest and declared him a proclaimed offender. Chairman PTI and 28 other leaders of the party are also wanted in the cases related to resorting to violence and attacking  Parliament House, Pakistan Television (PTV) building and former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Asmatullah Junejo during 2014 sit-in.

In July this year, the ATC had ordered Islamabad police and the capital administration to submit details of movable and immovable properties of Imran Khan and chief of Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri because they were absconders in different cases.