Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan released on bail

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan released on bail – CNN

(CNN) — Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been released on bail by the Islamabad Supreme Court days after his dramatic arrest on corruption charges sparked a deadly outburst of anger against the country’s military.

Khan left the courthouse on Friday under police protection and returned to Lahore. Before leaving, he predicted he could be arrested again, although a court order barred authorities from arresting him on all charges until Monday.

“I am being unlawfully arrested again, this time in the Supreme Court, I know I will be arrested. My simple message is: how am I supposed to control what happens after that?” Khan told reporters.

He said his message to supporters was to remain peaceful – adding that he was not responsible for how protesters would react if he was arrested again.

“I’ve been in politics for 27 years… Show me a message different than this… Every time I’ve said to my supporters, stay within the bounds of the Constitution. If you protest, be peaceful… We have never broken the law, even when I tell them to protest now, I say it should be a peaceful protest. I’ve always said that,” Khan said.

Cheering supporters gathered outside Khan’s home as he returned home to Lahore early Saturday. The video showed people cheering and throwing flower petals at Khan’s car as it drove through the crowd, and supporters setting off firecrackers.

The former leader was granted the two-week provisional release on bail on Friday, a day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled last week that Khan’s arrest by Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency, the National Accountability Bureau, was unlawful.

Khan’s party had launched a petition to challenge allegations of illegal land acquisition against him.

Shortly after his arrest, Khan accused the country’s powerful army chief: “There is only one man who goes against me and that’s the army chief,” Khan told reporters in court on Friday, referring to army chief General Syed Asim Munir.

CNN has reached out to the Pakistani military for comment.

Khan also said arrest warrants had been issued for his wife. “I am 100% sure I will be arrested again. The NAB allowed me to speak to my wife, and warrants were issued for her arrest,” Khan told CNN before his courtroom hearing.

Gunshots were heard outside near the courthouse early Saturday. Police said they made two arrests and are investigating the incident.

Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Police officers escort former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 12, 2023.


Khan’s dramatic arrest sparked a wave of unrest in major cities in Pakistan last week.

Overthrown in a no-confidence vote in parliament last year, Khan has since waged a popular campaign against the current government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accusing it of colluding with senior military leaders to remove him from office and ban him from politics.

He has also raised allegations that the government was colluding with the United States in a conspiracy to remove him from office, which both parties have denied.

The army has previously dismissed Khan’s claims that they had anything to do with previous attempts on his life.

Following Khan’s arrest, unprecedented scenes ensued in which defiant crowds broke into military compound and set fire to the homes of army personnel. In doing so, they posed a direct challenge to a normally untouchable force that has long reigned supreme in Pakistan.

To contain the chaos, the government has blocked mobile internet services and cut access to social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as major delivery apps and even digital payment platforms.

At least eight people across the country have died and hundreds have been arrested, according to officials.

Police have also arrested several senior leaders of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for “inciting arson and violent protests”.

The crisis comes at a time when the country of 220 million people is grappling with an acute economic crisis as soaring inflation makes it impossible for people to afford food and fuel, raising fears for the country’s stability all at once Election year strengthened for Pakistan.