12/5/2023–|Last updated: 12/5/202302:58 PM (Mecca Time)
The Islamabad High Court on Friday released former Prime Minister Imran Khan on two-week bail in a corruption and money laundering case known as the Qadir case. The court’s approval came a day after a court in the Pakistani capital declared on Thursday that his arrest earlier this week was illegal, an arrest that sparked violent protests across the country.
Khan’s bail was granted by the court after 3 days of deliberation, which included taking and responding between two Pakistani courts and the detention and conditional release of Imran Khan.
Imran Khan arrived earlier in the court to attend a hearing discussing his bail application amid tight security, while his supporters clashed with security forces in other areas of the city.
Television footage showed paramilitary and police forces outside the court as a convoy of more than 10 cars arrived.
Khan entered the courthouse, surrounded by lawyers and security forces, according to the Pakistani television station Geo, noting that Khan’s supporters clashed with the police in other areas of the city when the police cleared the roads for his convoy to reach the court.
The Islamabad High Court began its session on Friday after a delay of nearly two hours, and the media reported that officials were conducting a security sweep outside the courtroom.
Khan, 70, was arrested on Tuesday while a court in Islamabad was hearing his testimony in a corruption case, then he was placed in pretrial detention the next day for 8 days.
And yesterday, Thursday, the Supreme Court said that his arrest was “invalid and illegal” according to the written ruling that was published at night, and it considered that this arrest, at the initiative of the Anti-Corruption Office, “violated his rights to resort to justice,” but it kept him in the custody of the police assigned to protect him until today, Friday, when a hearing is held. the court in which he was arrested.
“We hope he will be granted bail,” said Faisal Hussain Chowdhury, Khan’s lawyer, who will avoid a second arrest in this file at the present time.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanullah warned that the security forces would “arrest Khan again”. He added in televised statements, “If the Supreme Court approved his release on bail (…) we will wait for the bail to be revoked and we will arrest him again.”--
Khan is the target of dozens of cases, which he considers an attempt by the government and the army to prevent him from returning to power.
Human rights advocates say Pakistani courts are often used to launch lengthy proceedings aimed at stifling political dissent.
The Pakistani police issued an order banning gatherings in anticipation of the influx of supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan to the capital Islamabad today, Friday, in conjunction with his appearance before the court.
Hundreds of police and paramilitary forces were deployed around the court and all roads leading to it were closed.
Khan’s party called on his supporters to go to Islamabad to support him, and said that thousands of “peaceful Pakistanis” from across the country would gather in Islamabad in solidarity with their leader.
Two senior party officials were arrested overnight on charges of masterminding violence, bringing the number of those arrested from the party’s cadres to 10. “This proves that the government is not seriously trying to solve the problem,” Chaudhry said.
Khan’s arrest caused instability in the country of about 220 million people at a time when it was already suffering from a severe economic crisis, and it also escalated his dispute with the army, which enjoys wide influence.
The authorities have arrested 2,000 people so far, and at least 9 have been killed after Ansar Khan clashed with the police, attacked military installations and set fire to government headquarters, in events that prompted the government to call in the army to help restore order.
In a rare matter in Pakistan, thousands of supporters of Khan’s party attacked the symbols of the army, accusing it of having contributed to the removal of its leader, who had been in power since 2018.
The authorities ordered internet services to be cut off and imposed restrictions on social networks, in addition to closing schools and canceling year-end exams.