Pakistan’s top court orders release of former PM Imran Khan
The judges ruled that the arrest of the opposition politician was illegal
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of former prime minister Imran Khan, whose arrest earlier this week triggered deadly protests across the country, Geo TV news channel has reported.
The court considered an appeal by Khan’s legal team on Thursday, ruling that the arrest of the opposition figure was illegal, according to the broadcaster.
The leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was detained on an order from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday as soon as he arrived at a lower court in connection with a graft case against him. He has been held at a police compound in the capital, Islamabad, since then.
Khan’s spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the 70-year-old was apprehended in court before he could even appear before the judges, which was “in violation of all laws.” The PTI party claimed that it was not an arrest, but “an abduction,” and called on its supporters to take the streets.
Pakistan has been gripped by violent protests for the last three days, with demonstrators clashing with security forces and setting government buildings on fire in major cities across the country. The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has deployed the military in an attempt to curb the unrest.
Some 2,500 of Khan’s supporters, including some top figures in his party, have been arrested so far. Local media have reported at least 11 protesters killed and hundreds of police officers wounded.
Numerous criminal cases have been launched against Khan since his removal from office after a no-confidence vote in April 2022. The PTI leader, who remains highly popular in the country, denies all accusations against him.
The politician claimed a year ago that he had been deposed as a result of a US-led “international conspiracy” and accused his opponents of receiving money from foreign forces.
Khan has been making active attempts to return to power since then, staging massive rallies across the country. The former premier survived an assassination attempt last November, escaping with a non-life-threatening leg wound after several bullets were fired at him.