21 March 2023

Pakistani court grants Imran Khan bail in terrorism cases

21 March 2023

A Pakistani court has granted former prime minister Imran Khan a week-long bail in two new cases in which he faces terrorism charges, officials said.

The ruling gave the embattled opposition leader another brief reprieve from arrest.

Since his removal in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, the 70-year-old former cricket player turned Islamist politician has become embroiled in a series of legal cases against him, including on terrorism charges and corruption while in office.

His standoff with the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, has turned increasingly violent in recent days.

In the latest terrorism cases, Khan is accused of inciting people to violence when he travelled to Islamabad last Saturday to face indictment in a corruption case.

His followers clashed with police outside the court and Khan never appeared before the judge. The case was later postponed until later in March.

A separate terrorism case against Khan relates to a rally last year when he verbally threatened a female judge.

Khan denies all charges against him, saying he is being victimised by Mr Sharif’s government.

After Tuesday’s ruling by a court in Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province, a close Khan associate repeated those claims. Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader in Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf party, said the terrorism charges were “politically motivated”.

Since the latest violence on Saturday, police have arrested hundreds of Khan’s supporters for attacking police in Islamabad and also in Lahore, where his followers clashed for two days with officers last week when police first attempted to arrest him.

Since he was wounded in November in a shooting while leading a rally – when a gunman sprayed his vehicle and entourage with bullets – Khan has also insisted there are plots to assassinate him. That attack killed one of his supporters and wounded 13.

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