10th May, 2023
Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, on Wednesday appeared in court facing multiple graft charges.
He was arrested on May 9, sparking violent protests across the country already facing extensive political and economic problems.
Thousands of paramilitary troops and officers were deployed in the capital Islamabad as Khan’s supporters converged on the city before the hearing, due to be held in a fortified police compound, instead of a courtroom.
A special court is expected to transfer Khan to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an autonomous anti-graft body, to probe a multi-million dollar property deal involving the real estate tycoon.
Another court was expected to indict Khan on charges of theft of expensive gifts he received from other countries during his tenure as prime minister between 2018 and 2022, public prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi said.
A conviction on both charges would disqualify Khan from becoming premier again and would also mean a jail term.
Khan’s lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, said the former premier’s legal team was planning to challenge the arrest in the Supreme Court.
The atmosphere was tense but calm prevailed on Wednesday morning after violent clashes overnight between police and Khan’s supporters, who burned vehicles and sought to storm the military headquarters.
There were fears of further violence as Interior Minister, Sanaullah Khan, said police and paramilitary forces were being deployed nationwide.
Pakistani politics have been in disarray since Khan was removed through a parliamentary vote of no confidence in 2022.
The nation is at risk of default due to low productivity levels, with disastrous flooding from super flooding in September 2022 further weighing on the economy.