Against a backdrop of allegations concerning illegal land transfers by the former Pakistan Prime Minister, tensions are escalating, and judges have made a decision.
Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, expressed concerns about being re-arrested immediately after being granted bail for two weeks in a corruption case by the Islamabad high court.
On Friday, tight security measures were in place as he attended a hearing at the court. Khan had been in police custody since Tuesday, when he was apprehended by almost 100 paramilitary officers at the court premises.
Following the supreme court’s decision that his arrest was illegal, Khan was granted relief on Thursday and instructed to seek bail from the high court. He spent the night at a police guesthouse but was no longer in custody, much to the government’s dismay.
In the Al Qadir case, which pertains to allegations of illegal land transfers, judges at the Islamabad high court granted Imran Khan bail for a period of two weeks on Friday. The court also prohibited the authorities from arresting Khan in any newly-filed cases for the next two weeks and ordered the government to provide him with sufficient security. Despite this, both Khan and his lawyer voiced concerns that he could be re-arrested in connection with the numerous other cases he is facing. Khan told local media as he entered the courtroom that he was 100% worried about being arrested again and believed that if this occurred, the cycle of violence would persist.
According to Khan’s lawyer, Babar Awan, the Lahore and Punjab police were en route to the Islamabad high court with the intention of arresting Khan. Awan asserted that any further attempt to arrest Khan would be unconstitutional and questioned the motives behind such actions. Meanwhile, the government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accused the supreme court of hypocrisy in its verdict and claimed that Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was pushing the country towards destruction. The interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, made it clear that despite the court’s directives, Khan was not immune from arrest. Sanaullah stated that if deemed necessary, Khan would be apprehended, and the government would not provide him with any relief.
In the early hours of Friday, the crackdown on members of the PTI party persisted, as two additional senior leaders, Yasmin Rashid and Shireen Mazari, were taken into custody in Lahore and Islamabad. This brought the total number of PTI leaders who had been detained to seven. Imran Khan’s popularity has soared since he was ousted from power in April of the previous year, and he has accused the country’s influential military, with whom he was formerly close, of engineering his downfall. As the number of charges against him grew, Khan’s apprehension had seemed inevitable for several months, and in March, he had already evaded an effort by the police to arrest him.
Following the supreme court’s decision, the violent protests that had erupted across the country this week mostly subsided. Nonetheless, the military continued to be deployed on the streets, and the police imposed an emergency law that banned gatherings in the capital. Over 2,000 individuals have been detained, and mobile internet services remain suspended throughout the country. On Friday, Imran Khan encouraged thousands of his followers to gather in Islamabad, where he promised to address them after his court appearance. Hammad Azhar, a senior PTI official, stated that Khan had conveyed a message that an effort was being made to apprehend him once again, and he urged the entire nation to demonstrate their support peacefully.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN AND NEWS AGENCIES