KHAN BEHIND BARS
The charismatic 70-year-old is Pakistan’s most popular politician and claims his ousting and subsequent legal cases have been orchestrated by the powerful military establishment to deny him a second term.
Khan was also briefly jailed on graft charges in May, sparking days of civil unrest, but since then, his PTI party has been targeted by a major crackdown which has vastly diminished his street power and seen most of his senior leadership jump ship or be locked away.
Islamabad said that it was targeted by “anti-state” violence during backlash over that arrest.
But rights groups say authorities used overly broad anti-terror laws to suppress PTI, and the domestic press reported pressure to censor or smear Khan on the airwaves.
While Khan was imprisoned this month, Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at the request of his successor Shehbaz Sharif to pave the way for a caretaker government which will usher in elections in the coming months.
No date for the polls has yet been announced.
Khan, a former cricket star, surged to power in 2018 on a wave of popular support, an anti-corruption manifesto and the backing of the powerful military establishment.
When he was ousted in April last year, analysts said it was because he had lost the support of those same generals who handed him the keys to office.
He was replaced by a shaky coalition of the dynastic parties which have historically ruled Pakistan.
But as an opposition politician, he waged an unprecedented campaign against the influential generals, who have staged at least three successful coups leading to decades of martial law.
Khan’s political opponents say that the former prime minister will remain in custody.
“He has been on judicial remand for 15 days, which is expiring tomorrow, and he will be produced for extension of the remand tomorrow in a special court,” said Ataullah Tarar, a key aide to former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Khan’s camp called for him to be released following Tuesday’s suspension of his graft conviction.
“Arresting him in any other case will cause further damage to our national integrity and repute of judicial system,” Khan’s aide Zulfikar Bukhari posted on messaging platform X.
“Let the innocent be free!” he added.
Source: Channel News Asia