Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan charged under ‘anti-terror’ law

Islamabad High Court granted PTI chief Imran Khan protective bail

Pakistani police have charged Imran Khan under anti-terror law after the former prime minister criticized the police and a judicial officer at a rally held in Islamabad.

The police case comes a day after the country’s top media regulatory body imposed a ban on Khan’s speeches for “spreading hate speech” against “state institutions and officers”.

On August 22, the Islamabad High Court granted PTI chief Imran Khan protective bail till August 25 in a terrorism case registered against him for “threatening” a judge and senior police officers at a public rally held at F-9 Park in Islamabad. Khan vowed to sue police officers and a female judge as he alleged that a close aide had been tortured after his arrest. The government has denied the torture claims.

The demonstration was held to show solidarity with to express solidarity with the party leader and Imran Khan’s chief of staff Shahbaz Gill and to record a protest against the government.

Once again in another rally on Sunday, he doubled down on his criticism of state institutions, saying the police acted under pressure from “neutrals”, a common euphemism for Pakistan’s military establishment.

“On May 25 when police perpetrated violence against us, I was told by insiders that police acted under orders by above, which means they were under pressure by the neutrals to thrash PTI workers,” he said at the rally in Rawalpindi.

Khan could face several years in prison for the new charges, which accuse him of threatening police officers and the judge. However, he has not been arrested on other lesser charges against him during his recent campaigning against the government.

PTI followers gather outside Khan’s residence to protect him from arrest

On Sunday and Monday, hundreds of Khan’s supporters gathered outside his hilltop mansion in Bani Gala, Islamabad vowing to prevent his arrest.

The protesters chanted slogans against the imported government of Shehbaz Sharif – brother of the jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – which took over after Khan was ousted in a confidence vote in April.

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