Popular leader and Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in safety back at his Lahore residence in the early hours of Saturday, after finally being freed on bail.
Khan was arrested by dozens of paramilitary troops that invaded the Supreme Court during a court appearance on Tuesday.
The country erupted in violent protests over what the Supreme Court ended up declared as an ‘unlawful’ arrest on corruption charges. His arrest of was declared ‘null and void’. The higher court further instructed the authorities to present him before the court on Friday.
“After the court granted him bail, Khan spent hours in the courthouse in the capital, Islamabad, as he and his legal team were locked in apparent negotiations over his exit.
As he headed to his home in the eastern city of Lahore, Khan put out a video statement from his vehicle saying the Islamabad police tried to keep him in the court through different tactics, and authorities allowed him to travel only when he threatened to tell the public he was being held there against his will.”
The decision by the court was a hard blow to the government that has been facing days of widespread rioting with at least nine people dead, hundreds of police officers injured and more than 4,000 people detained.
Khan, who was ousted as PM after he lost a confidence vote, has been seen by many as another victim of the ‘color revolutions’ that the US state department has been enacting around the world. In his case, he was targeted by the western powers after he refused to sanction Russia and support Ukraine.
Since stepping down from power, Khan has been vocal against the abuses by the Pakistani army, who he accuses of trying of an attempt to kill him last year.
“The 70-year-old former cricket star was arrested in what is known as the Al-Qadir Trust case. […] His cabinet is accused of helping [property tycoon] Malik Riaz launder more than $239m, while causing a loss to the national exchequer.
Khan has had dozens of cases registered against him in the past year – including corruption, terrorism, sedition and blasphemy – since he was removed in April last year. He denies all accusations, calling them politically motivated.”
Khan was welcomed in the early hours of Saturday by a massive crowd in his hometown of Lahore. He remains hugely popular ahead of October elections.