ISLAMABAD - Following its ruling on Thursday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday ordered the SSP Operations Islamabad to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and produce him before the Commission on September 25.

The PTI sources however remained tight-lipped over the development.  Legal brains are of the view that PTI chief can avoid arrest if he obtains a pre-arrest bail.

On Thursday, the ECP had issued a bailable warrant for the arrest of Imran Khan after he failed to personally appear before the polls supervisory body in the case.

A show-cause notice for contempt dated August 24 was issued on an application filed in January this year by Akbar S Babar – a former PTI leader and the main petitioner in an already pending case with regard to the PTI’s alleged funding by foreign sponsors.

The notice was served after Imran Khan allegedly declined to submit the party’s accounts details and instead cast aspersions on the ECP by calling it ‘biased’.

Imran Khan has already challenged the ECP’s show-cause notice in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) whose three-judge larger bench on Thursday heard his appeal against the notice, but adjourned its hearing till September 20 without granting any stay order against the ECP’s show-cause notice and subsequent arrest warrant.

The ECP notice accused Imran Khan of “having chosen not to submit an unconditional apology, thereby obstructing the administration of justice and willfully flouting the directions of the commission.”

It said despite being given repeated opportunities, the PTI chief refused to tender an unconditional apology in utter disregard to the commission’s direction.

The ECP went on to accuse Imran Khan of lowering the authority of the commission and “bringing it into disrepute and disrespect and to interfere with, obstruct, interrupt and prejudice the process of law and the due course of proceedings, and scandalising the commission”.

During his arguments Imran Khan’s counsel Babar Awan told the ECP that his client was ready to appear before the commission but could not show up as he had returned from abroad just an hour back.

Not satisfied with his arguments, the ECP issued a bailable arrest warrant for the PTI chief, asking him to appear in person on September 25.

Later, an IHC bench – comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb – did not allow Awan’s request to suspend the ECP warrant.

The bench remarked that hearing of the case before the ECP was fixed for September 25 whereas the court intended to decide the matter before the ECP’s next hearing. Subsequently, after hearing Awan’s arguments for around an hour, the bench adjourned the case till September 20 for further arguments.