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Court grants bail to Pakistan ex-Premier Imran Khan in corruption case

May 12, 2023 at 2:07 pm

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan gather to protest against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 09, 2023 [Hussain Ali – Anadolu Agency]

Islamabad High Court, on Friday, granted bail to former Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in a corruption case, local media reported, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Khan filed a bail petition after the anti-corruption watchdog – National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – had filed a corruption case against the popular opposition leader.

The Court granted bail for two weeks, according to local broadcasters.

Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, on Friday reviewed overall political situation in the country amid violent protests which erupted after his predecessor, Khan, was arrested this week in Pakhtunkhawa.

According to state-run Radio Pakistan, Sharif chaired a federal Cabinet meeting in the capital, Islamabad, which discussed “overall political and law and order situation in the country.”

Lamenting violence against public infrastructure, Sharif blamed Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI) party for “trying to push the country, which is already facing a myriad of challenges, towards destruction,” daily Dawn reported.

READ: Top court orders former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s presence in court amid political turmoil

Khan was arrested by the NAB from the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, which the PTI called “abduction”.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Thursday, declared Khan’s arrest illegal and ordered his immediate release. However, Khan was directed to appear before the Islamabad High Court on Friday, which is hearing the bail petition by Khan in the NAB case filed against the former premier and his wife, Bushra Bibi.

Fearing “re-arrest” of Khan, his PTI called for nationwide protests on Friday and urged its workers to reach Islamabad in solidarity with Khan. Reports of clashes between police and PTI workers from around the capital were also received.

The PTI also said its leaders and activists, including Shireen Mazari and Yasmin Rashid, were arrested.

Khan is currently hearing of his bail plea before the Islamabad High Court.

Violent protests erupted across Pakistan on Tuesday after Khan was arrested. Authorities snapped mobile internet and blocked social media sites.

Hospital sources confirmed seven people have been killed and over 100 wounded since protests started, while over 1,200 have been arrested across the country.

The PTI had earlier claimed that 47 of its workers were killed during the protests but in its latest statement, it revised down the count to 26, which Anadolu could not independently verify.

The federal government has deployed military in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, besides Islamabad to contain situation.

Allegations against Khan

Khan was arrested on Tuesday and taken into custody by the country’s paramilitary troops, Rangers, from the Islamabad High Court where he was attending the hearing of his bail application as, according to Khan, the government has filed over 120 cases against him during the last one year.

He was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau in connection with alleged corruption involving the Al Qadir University Trust.

It is claimed that the cricketer-turned-politician and his wife 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 ($239 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.

Pakistan’s anti-corruption body alleges that Khan’s PTI government struck a deal with Riaz that caused a loss of more than $239 million to the national exchequer, in a quid pro quo arrangement with the businessman.

Khan and his party leaders, however, deny the allegations.

Khan, who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 2018-2022, lost a vote of confidence in Parliament last April, one year short of completing his term.

In November, he survived an assassination attempt during a rally.

Since then, Khan has fallen out with the country’s powerful army, and is facing a plethora of cases, which his supporters say are politically motivated.

READ: Protests break out against arrest of Pakistan ex-Premier