Imran Khan, former Pakistani leader, charged under terrorism act

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been charged under the country’s counter-terrorism law in the latest chapter of the tense power struggle with Pakistan’s current government since his ouster.

Sunday’s move came a day after Khan addressed a rally and criticized top police officials and a judge for the arrest of his chief of staff. Police said in an indictment report that Khan had threatened the officials.

“The way Imran Khan delivered his speech and the threats he made sparked fear and terror among the police, the judiciary and the common people and damaged the peace of the country,” they wrote in the report.

Since his removal from power in April, Khan has staged vociferous demonstrations denouncing the government. The former cricketer has managed to maintain his strong political base, gaining momentum in local elections. By contrast, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who replaced Khan, has made little progress in addressing the severe economic crisis that has pushed consumer prices up.

Khan “will have to appear in court for threatening and hurling abuse at the magistrate and police officers. Such brutal acts of violence are responsible for inciting extremism in society,” Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted early Monday.

Hours after news of the charges broke, hundreds of Khan’s supporters gathered outside his home in Islamabad, the capital, in an attempt to avoid his arrest.

“The arrest of Imran Khan is a ‘red line’ for us. Crossing this line would lead to something very bad, not good for the people and for the country,” said Murad Saeed, a senior official in the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by Khan.

“We want to stay within the confines of the constitution, but people are angry, very angry,” he said, warning that the popular uprising could “destroy” the incumbent government.

As political tensions mount, Pakistan launches media crackdown

Saeed and other party leaders have called on thousands of others to come to Islamabad and “protect their leader.”

Khan’s chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill, was arrested earlier this month after making comments on a talk show the government deemed “anti-military.” Khan claims Gill was tortured during his imprisonment, a claim the government denies.

Khan and his party have already faced a partial media ban. Authorities have banned the live broadcast of his speeches and the news channel on which Gill made his comments was banned. Two newscasters associated with the same channel fled the country after they were reportedly harassed by the government.

Khan was removed from office in April by a vote of no confidence in parliament, which took place after several postponements.

He came to power in 2018 and pledged to build a “new Pakistan” – an Islamic welfare state based on opportunity, justice and independence for the impoverished nation of a Muslim majority of 220 million people.

But he struggled to manage the economy amid rampant inflation and rising foreign debt. He also clashed with the country’s military leadership and lost political allies, who slowly gathered enough support to challenge him and accuse him of nearly bankrupting Pakistan.

Khan is the first leader to be ousted by lawful vote since Pakistan’s founding in 1947. Previous prime ministers had their tenures cut short by a military coup d’état or some other form of extra-legal interference.

Khan claimed his impeachment was supported by the United States. He provided no evidence for that claim, and the State Department has denied involvement.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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