Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Former Leader, Appears in Court

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared in court in the Pakistani capital on Thursday after being charged according to the country’s anti-terrorism lawThe latest step in an increased crackdown on Mr Khan and his allies since he was sacked in April.

The hearing was his first since his arraignment on Sunday, after a speech in which he threatened legal action against police officers and a federal judge. regarding the recent arrest of one of his top aides.

The allegations are seen as an escalation of the months-long conflict between the current government of Pakistan, led by the Prime Minister. Shehbaz Sharifand its former leader, who has made a great political comeback in recent months.

When Mr Khan appeared at the counter-terrorism court in Islamabad on Thursday to file bail, many in Pakistan were worried that violence could erupt. A day earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had warned that if the court rejected Mr Khan’s bail application, the government would arrest him – a move that his supporters say would go beyond Mr. across the “red line”.

His appearance in court is the latest turning point in the former leader’s second political act since a defeat with the country’s powerful military and removed from office in a vote of no confidence.

In recent months, Mr. Khan has drawn tens of thousands of people to his protests, where he has doubled down on accusations that the United States and the country’s powerful military conspired to overthrow the government. he. His speeches also highlighted the growing frustration of the Pakistani people over the country’s economic downturn, which the current government is struggling to deal with.

His message resonated greatly and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, won seats in provincial elections in two key regions.

“I can say that there is a soft revolution going on in Pakistan,” Mr. Khan said in an hour-long interview with New York Times journalists on Wednesday. “I never thought in my life I would see this happen in the country – people spontaneously vent without being led by political parties.”

Journalists deemed “pro-Khan” were harassed, threatened and arrested by the authorities, he said. A top Khan aide, Shahbaz Gill, was jailed after making anti-military remarks, and the TV channel that broadcast them was forced to stop broadcasting. Mr Khan has accused the authorities of torturing Mr Gill, who is still in custody. Government officials have denied this claim.

In Wednesday’s interview, Mr Khan said he was not directly condemning the country’s powerful military, which has long acted as the real power broker in Pakistani politics.

But to take a cautious line, Mr Khan suggested that the military establishment played a role in the current crackdown, claiming that several officials involved in Mr Gill’s arrest have said they were ” push from behind” – a popular phrase in Pakistan referring to military pressure.

The Pakistani military has denied accusations that it played any role in the recent crackdown, insisting the institution has adopted a “neutral” stance amid political turmoil. Military officials also stressed that the military is not involved in police cases and civilian courts.

Mr Khan’s lawyers argued that the case against him was a hoax. Islamabad police have charged Mr Khan under part of the country’s anti-terror law, and a police report said he had “terrorized and threatened top police officials and a female judge appointed”. respect in the supplementary session” in the speech.

“We will not spare you,” Mr Khan told officials.

Mr Khan has called for new elections. And he has repeatedly stressed that he hopes the country can avoid violent unrest even as political tensions rise.

“One thing I don’t want is violence,” he said. “That wouldn’t suit us; that would suit those already in power, because the last thing they want is an election. For us, any violence or disruption means there won’t be an election. “

But in the face of widespread frustration over the economic crisis and a political landscape that has been dominated for decades by often corrupt family dynasties, many fear that any street action against Mr. Khan’s fate could easily become violent unrest.

Adil Najam, a professor at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and an expert on Pakistani politics, said: “This has fueled the fallacy. “I can’t imagine a world where his capture – if it happens – will quietly descend.”

Salman Masood contribution report.

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