“Khan threatens decades of corruption, so they will not stand idly by about him. A long battle awaits us, but we scored a victory today,” Zunira Shah, the 40-year-old head of the family, said after Khan was released on bail on Friday.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived Saturday at his residence in Lahore, after being released on bail following conflicting judicial decisions and riots in the country for days.
Khan arrived at his residence in eastern Pakistan in the early hours of Saturday. Video clips published by his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, showed more than 100 of Khan’s supporters throwing roses on his car to celebrate his release.
“Khan threatens decades of corruption, so they will not stand idly by about him,” Zunira Shah, the 40-year-old head of the family, said after Khan was released on bail on Friday. “A long battle awaits us, but we scored a victory today.”
The former prime minister between 2018 and 2022, who has been pressing for several months to organize early elections before October, through which he hopes to return to power, was attacked by dozens of members of the armed forces, and was arrested during his appearance before the Islamabad court in the context of a corruption case.
The arrest of Khan, a former cricket star who later became involved in politics and enjoys great popularity, sparked violent confrontations in several Pakistani cities between his supporters and the security forces. Several official departments were set on fire, roads were cut off, and army symbols were vandalized.
At least nine people were killed during these confrontations, according to hospitals and the police. Hundreds of police officers were injured and more than four thousand people were arrested, most of them in the provinces of Punjab in the east of the country and Khyber Pakhtukhua in the northwest, according to the authorities.
On Friday, clashes took place between the demonstrators and the security forces, who responded with tear gas, while the security forces fired at them, according to the police. And preventing access to social networks, especially Facebook and YouTube, shortly after Khan’s arrest, before the service was gradually restored throughout the country.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Khan’s detention at the courthouse was against the law, and on Friday he was released on bail for two weeks in the context of this specific case. The Islamabad High Court also prevented Khan from being arrested in any case before Monday in any other case.
Since his removal from power in April 2022, Khan has found himself at the center of a series of court cases, a danger often besetting opposition figures in Pakistan.
“I was treated like a terrorist”
“The leader of the largest party in the country was kidnapped from the court in front of the entire nation. I was treated as a terrorist and this had to lead to a reaction,” Khan said Friday, in a statement to Agence France-Presse before leaving the court, amid heavy security.
Home Minister Rana Sanaullah promised that Khan would be arrested again sooner or later, before the elections scheduled for October at the latest. “A decision issued by the judiciary should not be violated. But if there is an opportunity to arrest Imran Khan (within the limits) of the court order, it will certainly be done,” Al-Jumaa told the private broadcaster “Geo News”.
Khan launched a harsh verbal attack on his successor, Shahbaz Sharif, and the army that helped him come to power in 2018, before he stopped supporting him. His arrest on Tuesday came shortly after the army warned him of accusations made against him last weekend. Khan again accused a high-ranking officer of plotting to assassinate him in November, during a campaign rally where he was shot in the leg.
The army has great political influence in Pakistan and it is behind three coups since the country’s independence in 1947, and it took power for more than three decades, but direct criticism of it is very rare and is considered a red line, and its shooter usually turns into a target for the security services.