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The arrest of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

The arrest of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
  • The 70-year-old Khan, who remains hugely popular across the country of 230 million people, was ousted from power in April of 2022 after opposition lawmakers voted of no confidence in them alleging corruption and unconstitutional measures.
  • In October, the Election Commission of Pakistan passed a ruling preventing Khan from ever holding office again, angering many of his supporters who allege fraud.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad on June 4, 2021.

Saina Bashir | Reuters

His party said paramilitary officers arrested former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday in a court in the capital, Islamabad.

Khan, who heads Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), one of the country’s largest political parties, was in the Islamabad High Court attending hearings for his bail applications in connection with corruption cases against him, which he says are politically motivated.

The arrest follows a recent tense exchange between Khan, the former national cricket captain who became Pakistan’s prime minister in 2018, and the country’s powerful military.

Having survived an assassination attempt last November, Khan has accused a senior military officer and current Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of being behind the attempt.

An army spokesperson admonished Khan this week for “extremely irresponsible and baseless allegations against a senior serving military officer without any evidence,” to which Khan responded via video statement on Tuesday: “This is my army and Pakistan. I don’t need to lie.” .”

The army spokesman warned of legal action if Khan persisted with his accusations. Regarding the possibility of arrest, Khan said, “If someone has a warrant, he should bring it to me directly. Bring the warrant, my lawyer will be there. I am ready to go to jail myself.”

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The 70-year-old Khan, who remains hugely popular across the country of 230 million people, was ousted from power in April 2022 after opposition lawmakers voted no-confidence on allegations of corruption and unconstitutional actions. The country’s supreme court upheld the charges.

Deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) waves to supporters of his party during a rally in Islamabad on May 26, 2022.

Aamir Qureshi | Afp | Getty Images

In October, the Election Commission of Pakistan passed a ruling preventing Khan from ever holding office again, angering many of his supporters who allege fraud.

Khan and his supporters said last year that his dismissal was a plot hatched by the current prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, and the United States, which has a long and complex relationship with the Pakistani government. Sharif and Washington denied the charges.

Khan’s legal troubles appear to have made him more popular with his base, who believe he will return and become prime minister again in elections later this year. Some political analysts see him as a possible candidate as well, and many expect the charges against him to be dropped.

Khan is one of the most popular figures in Pakistan and the wider South Asia region and is known for leading the Pakistan national cricket team to glory in the 1980s and 1990s. He later moved into politics, founding PTI in 1996.

Khan’s political career was marked by losses until his party, which ran on a populist platform, won the most seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2018 and led the ruling coalition as prime minister.

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