Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested in Islamabad

  • Khan, 70, still hugely popular across the nation of 230 million people, was ousted in April 2022 after a no-confidence vote by opposition lawmakers accusing him of corruption and unconstitutional actions.
  • In October, Pakistan’s Election Commission passed a ruling barring Khan from running for re-election, sparking outrage among many of his supporters who allege foul play.

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 4, 2021.

China Basheer | Reuters

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested by paramilitary officers at a court in the capital Islamabad on Tuesday. Captured footage shows dozens of paramilitary personnel surrounding Khan and pushing him into an armored vehicle before driving him away.

Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), one of the country’s largest political parties, was at the Islamabad High Court to attend a hearing on bail pleas in corruption cases against him, which he says are politically motivated.

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

After surviving an assassination attempt last November, Khan accused Shebaz Sharif, a senior military officer and Pakistan’s current prime minister, of being behind the attempt.

A military spokesman this week censured Khan for making “very reckless and baseless allegations without any evidence against a serving senior army officer,” to which Khan responded in a video statement on Tuesday: “This is my army and my Pakistan. I don’t need to lie. .”

An army spokesman warned that legal action would be taken if Khan continued his allegations. On the possibility of arrest, Khan said, “If anybody has a warrant, they should bring it directly to me. Bring the warrant, my lawyer will be there. I am ready to go to jail myself.”

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Khan, 70, who is hugely popular with 230 million people across the country, was ousted in April 2022 after a no-confidence vote by opposition lawmakers accusing him of corruption and unconstitutional actions. The charges were upheld by the country’s Supreme Court.

Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) waves to his party supporters during a rally in Islamabad on May 26, 2022.

Aamir Qureshi | Afp | Good pictures

In October, Pakistan’s Election Commission passed a ruling barring Khan from running for re-election, sparking outrage among many of his supporters who allege foul play.

Khan and his supporters say his ouster last year was a plot orchestrated by current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the US, which has a long and complicated relationship with the Pakistani government. Sharif and Washington denied the allegations.

Khan’s legal troubles made him very popular among his base. Some political analysts also see him as a favorite, and many expect the charges against him to be dropped.

Khan is one of the most popular figures in Pakistan and the wider South Asian region, known for making Pakistan’s national cricket team proud in the 1980s and 90s. He later turned to politics and founded the PTI in 1996.

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

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