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Pakistan: Former Premier Khan gets bail in multiple cases

24th May 2023
Pakistan: Former Premier Khan gets bail in multiple cases

By Aamir Latif and Riyaz ul Khaliq

KARACHI, Pakistan / ISTANBUL, Turkey (AA): An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Tuesday granted bail to Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan in multiple cases.

Khan, who has more than 100 cases filed against him since being removed from power last year in April, traveled to the capital Islamabad on Tuesday to appear before the ATC.

The ATC granted bail to Khan in at least eight cases until June 8, according to Pakistani broadcasters.

Various cases have been filed against Khan after violence erupted outside the Judicial Complex Islamabad during one of his appearances before the court in March.

Al-Qadir Trust case

Khan, along with his wife Bushra Bibi, appeared before the anti-graft watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a $237-million corruption case, commonly known as the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The ex-prime minister remained at the NAB office in the garrison city of Rawalpindi for more than three hours, where he was grilled about the case, the local broadcaster Geo News reported, citing unnamed NAB officials.

The investigators, according to the broadcaster, handed over a questionnaire to Khan, seeking details of the trust deal and the land record.

There was no official statement from NAB till the report was published.

According to Farrukh Habib, Khan’s aide and the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, there are “around 150 cases” filed against Khan.

The South Asian nuclear country has been in the grip of a raging political turmoil, compounded by an ailing economy, since Khan’s ouster through a no-trust vote in April 2021. Khan has demanded snap elections, which are otherwise scheduled for October this year.

He has also fallen out with the country’s powerful army and is facing a plethora of cases that his supporters claim are politically motivated.

He was arrested by NAB, in connection with alleged corruption involving the Al Qadir University Trust. However, his arrest was declared illegal by the country’s top court, and he was later released on bail.

It is alleged Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi received billions of rupees and a large piece of costly land to build the educational institution in return for releasing an amount of £190 million ($236 million) to a property tycoon in 2020.

The amount was identified and returned to the country by the UK’s National Crime Agency following a settlement with real estate tycoon Malik Riaz in 2019. The anti-graft department alleges that Khan’s PTI government struck a deal with Riaz that caused a loss of over $239 million to the national examiner in a quid pro quo arrangement with the businessman.

Khan and his party leaders, however, have denied the right.

He also narrowly escaped assassination during a rally in November last year.

Meanwhile, former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari Tuesday announced quitting the Khan-led PTI.

Addressing a news conference at her residence in northeastern Lahore city, Mazari, a close aid of Khan, said she will no longer take part in “active politics.”

“I will now prioritize my mother, my kids, and my health,” said Mazari, who has been booked in several cases after violent protests across the country following the arrest of Khan on May 9 in a corruption case.

She has been arrested several times since May 9.

Her exit is the latest in a series of resignations by several party leaders since May 9. Khan accuses the government agencies of forcing his party leaders to quit.

Police rearrested PTi’s vice Chairman and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi late Tuesday, minutes after he was released from a jail in Rawalpindi on orders from the Islamabad High Court.

Amnesty International has urged authorities to “end the crackdown on the political opposition in the country through mass arrests, arbitrary detention and charging people under vague anti-terrorism laws.”

The human rights group demanded the immediate release of all those held “solely for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

[Photo: Police take security measures as FormerPakistani Prime Minister and Chairman ofPakistanTehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan arrives to appear at High Court to seek protective bail in terrorism cases in Lahore,Pakistan, on May 19, 2023. Photojournalist :Rana Irfan Ali/AA]

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