Rangers escort a vehicle carrying former Prime Minister Imran Khan after the Supreme Court ordered his release two days after his arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan, 11 May 2023. EFE-EPA/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

Pakistani court orders Imran Khan’s release on bail for 2 weeks

Islamabad, May 12 (EFE).- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a two-week bail release by a court on Friday in a significant relief after his arrest that sparked days of deadly clashes between police and his supporters.

A car carrying former Prime Minister Imran Khan leaves the Supreme Court after it ordered his release two days after his arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan, 11 May 2023. EFE-EPA/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

The reprieve in a graft case came a day after the Supreme Court termed his Tuesday arrest as illegal.

Police stand guard outside the Supreme Court after it ordered the release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan two days after his arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan, 11 May 2023. EFE-EPA/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

Khan’s dramatic detention by paramilitary troopers inside the Islamabad High Court complex had pushed the predominantly Muslim country with a population of 231 million into fresh crisis with at least eight civilian casualties in violent demonstrations.

He also got temporary relief in other cases, including allegations of terrorism and vandalism, as the Islamabad High Court barred the authorities from arresting him till May 17.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reacted sharply to the court’s decision favoring Khan, one of the most popular politicians in the country.

Sharif, who came to power after Khan was ousted in a parliamentary trust vote in April last year, said the Supreme Court’s relief was an amnesty.

The prime minister asked the judiciary to release “all the dacoits behind bars in the country.” “Let this be free for all.”

Sharif warned that everyone would bear the consequences of whatever followed next. “The attacks on army installations … there can be no greater terrorism.”

The embattled ex-prime minister faces allegations of receiving nearly 60 acres of land worth 7 billion Pakistani rupees ($24 million) as a bribe from real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.

In 2019, Malik entered into an out-of-court settlement agreement with Britain’s National Crime Agency for the repatriation of 190 million pounds ($239 million) to the government of Pakistan in a money laundering case.

The then cabinet of Khan approved that the money be sent back to Malik’s account, apparently in return for the land.

The land was obtained in the name of Al-Qadir University Trust to build a charitable university.

According to documents, the trust was set up by Khan’s third wife, Bushra Bibi.

However, Khan denied the charges, saying the land had been donated for charitable purposes.

On Wednesday, Khan was also indicted in the Toshakhana (meaning treasure house) graft case.

He is accused of not disclosing the money he earned by selling state gifts he had received on foreign visits as PM.

Khan has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He is facing more than 100 cases, ranging from corruption to sedition to terrorism that he says are politically motivated.

His arrest on Tuesday sparked widespread violent protests in the country in which at least eight people were killed and over 100 were injured.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said hundreds of its supporters and top leadership have been arrested.

According to the party, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari was taken into custody by the Islamabad Police early Friday.

Marzari’s daughter, Imaan Hazir-Mazari, posted a video on Twitter that appeared to show plainclothes men forcefully entering the former minister’s home to arrest her. EFE