Lahore High Court Grants Protective Bail to Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan
Tense Standoff Resolved
The Lahore High Court has granted protective bail to former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in multiple cases that were filed against him earlier this week. The development on Friday came after days of a tense standoff between security forces and the supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s chief outside his residence in Lahore, which had escalated into clashes.
Accompanied by a large number of supporters, Khan on Friday arrived in the Lahore court more than an hour after a 5:30pm (11:30 GMT) deadline to seek protective bail in a number of cases filed against him in Lahore and Islamabad. Separately on Friday, the Islamabad High Court decided to suspend an arrest warrant issued against him in a corruption case. The court ordered him to appear before a lower court in the capital.
“We will ensure Imran Khan’s appearance in court tomorrow [Saturday],” Khan’s lawyer Faisal Fareed Chaudhry told Al Jazeera. The warrant related to his non-appearance in the court to answer a case brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan accusing him of not declaring gifts received during his time as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 or the profit made from selling them. Khan denies the charges.
Multiple Cases Filed
Azhar Siddique, part of Khan’s legal team in Lahore, earlier told Al Jazeera that Khan was seeking protective bail against the cases filed against him in Lahore and Islamabad. He said it was routine to seek bail from higher courts in cases filed in other cities. “Four new cases have been registered here in Lahore against Imran Khan, and that is pertaining to the resistance that his supporters showed towards the police when they came to arrest him,” said Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from outside Khan’s residence.
PTI leader Musarrat Cheema said Khan “never shied away from appearing before the court and it was only due to the security concerns”. “Imran Khan never intended to embarrass the courts,” she said. “All he said was that the location of the court is congested, and he has genuine security concerns due to which he asked for a possibility of clubbing all the cases together. However, he has now given assurance of his appearance in Islamabad tomorrow [Saturday]. He will be there.”
Large Number of Legal Cases
Khan, a former cricket star, also told Al Jazeera at least 85 cases have been filed against him since he was removed from office in a parliamentary vote in April. Since then, he has been holding public rallies to demand immediate national elections. He was shot and wounded at one of those rallies in November.
Allegations of Assassination Attempt
Khan told Al Jazeera that the people who want to arrest him are the same people who tried to assassinate him. “I believe the same people now trying to put me in jail were responsible for the attempt on my life,” he said, without giving any names.