Pakistan’s Imran Khan gets temporary reprieve from terrorism charges

Lawyers take photographs with their mobile phones as Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is facing terrorism charges, appears in court to extend pre-arrest bail, in Islamabad, Pakistan August 25, 2022. REUTERS/Waseem Khan

ISLAMABAD – Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was granted temporary protection from arrest on Thursday by Islamabad’s anti-terrorism court, a move expected to alleviate escalating tensions between the former leader and the current government, after the power struggle threatened to erupt into violence this week.

The court’s ruling, called “pre arrest bail,” prevents his arrest before Sept. 1. At that time, he will be required to appear before the court again, Faisal Choudhary, a senior lawyer on Khan’s legal team, told The Washington Post.

Khan was charged with threatening current government officials and a judge Sunday after he criticized the individuals at one of the large, boisterous rallies he’s held since his ouster in April. The rallies are often attended by thousands of supporters and feature his fiery speeches denouncing Pakistan’s current government as corrupt and a foreign puppet.

“Is this a banana republic? Is there any law here?” Khan said in brief remarks after exiting the court. “Those who are making these decisions, I want to tell them: ‘You better think about what’s good for our country.'”

The government is “afraid of the rising popularity of our party, and that’s why there are cases like this,” he continued. “But they are making a joke of this country.”

There has not yet been an official response to Thursday’s ruling.

A no-confidence vote in Parliament ousted Khan amid a spiraling economic crisis and after a disagreement with the country’s military leadership that some say allowed his opponents to build a coalition against him.

However, Khan appears to have leveraged his ouster to strengthen his base of popular support. Hundreds of Khan’s supporters gathered outside the judicial complex Thursday morning in Pakistan’s capital as Khan arrived from his residence, rushing his motorcade chanting, “Who will save Pakistan!? Imran Khan! Imran Khan!”

Pakistan’s government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who replaced Khan, has made little progress in addressing the dire economic crisis. The country’s foreign debt continues to rise, consumer prices are skyrocketing, and the high cost of utilities like electricity has sparked protests nationwide.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here