Pakistan

Imran Khan to face fresh charges of contempt in August 

The Election Commission of Pakistan announced on Tuesday its intention to formally charge former Prime Minister Imran Khan next week for alleged public insults directed at its officials last year.

Khan, accompanied by his legal team, appeared before a specialized tribunal in Islamabad amidst heightened security measures. Following a brief session, Khan’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, disclosed that the tribunal had resolved to indict the former premier for contempt on August 2nd.

The charges stem from Khan’s purported labeling of the head of the electoral body, Sikandar Sultan Rajaa, and other officials as “personal servants” to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif at various gatherings. Sharif assumed office in April 2022 following Khan’s removal via a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

Despite evading previous summons, Khan voluntarily attended Tuesday’s tribunal hearing, disputing the electoral body’s jurisdiction to level contempt charges against him. Notably, the election oversight body had ordered Khan’s arrest on Monday due to his repeated non-compliance with tribunal appearances.

Legal battles and allegations

Khan, who retains a substantial grassroots following despite his ouster, has encountered a barrage of legal challenges since leaving office, numbering over 150 cases, including allegations of corruption, terrorism, and incitement related to violent protests in May.

The country witnessed widespread unrest in May when Khan was arrested on graft charges in Islamabad, prompting his supporters to engage in violent demonstrations targeting government and military installations nationwide.

Order was restored only upon Khan’s release, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and subsequent legal shields from arrest granted by other judicial entities.

In addition to the electoral tribunal proceedings, Khan faced scrutiny from the Federal Investigation Agency on Tuesday for allegedly disclosing a classified document.

Last week, the government of Shehbaz Sharif announced plans to prosecute Khan for revealing an official secret document during a rally last year, which Khan cited as evidence of threats against him and as validation for his claims of a conspiracy behind his removal from power.

The document in question, referred to as Cipher, purportedly involves diplomatic communication between a Pakistani ambassador in Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, though its contents remain undisclosed to the public.

Khan has consistently maintained that his ousting was orchestrated as part of a US-backed scheme, an assertion refuted by both Sharif’s administration and Washington.

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