Imran gets bail in key cases, hits out at Pak army chief | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Imran gets bail in key cases, hits out at Pak army chief

By, New Delhi
May 12, 2023 11:43 PM IST

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan criticizes Pakistan Army chief Gen Asim Munir, saying the general?s actions are maligning the military. Khan's remarks mark an escalation in his campaign against the powerful military, which facilitated his rise to power in the 2018 election but fell out with him last year after sharp differences on a range of issues. Khan was granted bail in a graft case and barred authorities from arresting him till May 15. The response to his diatribe from the public suggests the mood is swinging.

Former Pakistan premier Imran Khan on Friday came out swinging against Pakistan Army chief Gen Asim Munir after a court granted him bail in a graft case and barred authorities from arresting him till May 15, saying the general’s actions were maligning the military.

Policemen escort Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on Friday. (AFP)
Policemen escort Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on Friday. (AFP)

Khan’s remarks soon after the Islamabad high court granted him relief marked an escalation in his campaign against the powerful military, which facilitated his rise to power in the 2018 election but fell out with him last year after sharp differences on a range of issues. And the response to his diatribe from the public suggests which way the mood is swinging.

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A day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that Khan’s arrest in a money laundering case was unlawful, the Islamabad high court granted him bail for two weeks in the same case and barred authorities from arresting him in connection with any new cases filed against him since May 9, the day he was detained.

Khan left the Islamabad high court late on Friday night, and was reportedly headed for Lahore, after alleging that he was being held captive inside the court for over three years earlier in the evening. Reports said gunshots were fired outside the court complex but it was not clear by whom.

Khan has also sought transitory bail in four more cases filed against him in Lahore and the high court prohibited authorities from arresting him at least till May 15. Talking to the local media soon after the court order, Khan expressed his gratitude to the judiciary and claimed the “law of the jungle” was prevailing and “only one man was making decisions for the country”.

In a brief interview with western media outlets, Khan has said his fight was against the army chief and not the security establishment.

Asked if it was a fight between him and the security agencies, he replied: “It’s not the security agency, it’s one man – the army chief. There is no democracy in the army. The army is getting maligned by what is happening right now, and sadly the events that happened when I was inside — I only found out afterwards — [were] because the army is getting maligned because of one man. That one man is scared.”

Khan also said this “one man fears he will lose his seat [if] I come back to power”. He added, “I will not be doing anything.” He contended that “no enemy has done as much harm to Pakistan as this one man”.

There was no immediate response from the Pakistani military to Khan’s remarks.

Khan spent around 10 hours in the courthouse, apparently awaiting security clearance from the authorities. While speaking to the media, his lawyer Naeem Haider said police had said the delay was due to firing outside the court.

In a video released on social media, the former premier alleged he was being held captive inside the court house. “They have kept me here in the courthouse for hours. They are not letting me leave,” Khan said.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s main anti-graft body, days after he accused Maj Gen Faisal Naseer, head of counter-intelligence in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of trying to assassinate him twice.

Khan was arrested in connection with what is known as the Al-Qadir Trust case, which involves allegations that he and his wife obtained crores of (Pakistani) rupees and vast tracts of land from a real estate firm for “legalising” a laundered amount of 5,000 crores that was identified and returned to Pakistan by the UK during the term of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday joined the ranks of leaders criticising the judiciary’s actions in handling Khan’s case. Expressing disappointment at the judiciary’s “biased” attitude towards Khan, Sharif criticised the “double standards of justice” and “extraordinary relief” given to the former premier in graft cases.

“The judiciary has become an iron shield for Imran Khan,” Sharif was quoted as saying by Geo News while addressing a cabinet meeting. Sharif questioned the judiciary’s attitude towards other incarcerated politicians and expressed surprise at Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s remarks while hearing Khan’s case on Thursday — the judge said he was pleased to meet the former premier .

“(Other) Politicians were sent to jail (under previous governments) in fake cases. Did any court ever take notice?” he asked. “These are the double standards of justice.” He listed what he saw as the injustice meted out to his brother and former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition announced they would organise a sit-in protest outside the Supreme Court on May 15 against Bandial for giving “VIP protocol” to Khan.

Khan’s arrest triggered violent protests that left at least 10 people dead and targeted military facilities and installations, including the corps commander’s residence in Lahore. More than 2,000 people were arrested after the army was deployed to quell the protests, and internet data services and social media platforms remained restricted for the fourth day.

The Pakistan Army denounced the “pre-planned” protests by Khan’s supporters and warned there would be “severe retaliation to any further attacks on the army, law enforcement agencies, military and state installations by the group that wants to push Pakistan into a civil war”.

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