ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan said on Sunday that there is an eighty percent chance that he would be arrested again on Tuesday when he appears for multiple bail hearings in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Ever since he was dismissed from office via a parliamentary vote in April 2022, over 100 cases have been registered against Khan in various Pakistani courts. The charges against the former prime minister range from corruption to terrorism and sedition, which he says are politically motivated.
Violent protests broke out after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader was arrested on May 9 from an Islamabad court on charges of corruption. Angry Khan supporters targeted government buildings and military installations, including the house of a senior army official, smashed buses and blocked roads. The protests came to an end after the Supreme Court declared his arrest “illegal” on May 12 and granted Khan a two-week bail in multiple cases.
Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria during an interview, Khan claimed that over 10,000 of his supporters across the country are in jails on trumped-up charges, including his party’s senior leadership. The former premier feared he would be next.
“On Tuesday, I’m going to make an appearance for various bails in Islamabad,” Khan said. “Eighty percent chances are that I will be arrested. So right now, there is no rule of law,” he added.
Khan’s remarks come at a time of heightened tensions between the former premier and Pakistan’s powerful military. The government and military have said the May 9 rioters would be tried by military courts for attacking army installations, a move that has been decried by Khan and human rights organizations in Pakistan.
The PTI leader, who has been calling for snap elections across the country after his party and an ally dissolved its governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces, has alleged that the government is afraid of his rising popularity and is hence not obeying the top court’s orders to hold elections in Punjab.
“And because they [the government] are scared that the PTI and I would be back in power, everything is being done to dismantle our democracy,” Khan said.
Khan, once considered a close ally of the military, had a falling out with the powerful institution last year after he accused ex-army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa of not intervening to save his government.
Khan has since then mounted attacks against the army, even blaming a senior intelligence official for trying to have him killed last year and orchestrating the assassination of slain TV anchor Arshad Sharif.
When asked whether Khan thinks he could take on the army and win, the former premier said regardless of the outcome, “the country loses.”
“I mean, Pakistan needs a powerful army,” Khan said, adding that Muslim countries around the world are suffering from devastation due to the absence of a strong army.
“So, I’m a firm believer that the country needs a strong defense, it needs to be able to defend itself as it did during the War on Terror,” he added.