A Pakistani court has extended the bail of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest if he is arrested again.
Khan’s arrest in a corruption case on May 9 in Islamabad sparked violent clashes between his supporters and the police, which left at least nine people dead, before he was released three days later. A special anti-corruption court extended the former cricket star’s bail in the same case that led to his arrest until July 4. He was also granted bail in 15 other cases heard by three courts, according to one of his lawyers, Gohar Khan.
Khan, who was ousted from power in April 2022 by a no-confidence motion, believes that the government is desperate to keep him out of the next elections, due by October, and intends to have him arrested again. The authorities responded to the May incidents with a severe crackdown on his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), with some demonstrators attacking army installations, guilty in their eyes of orchestrating his arrest.
Following his ouster, Khan had issued unprecedented criticism of the army, which had backed him underhand during his election in 2018 before turning its back on him. Denouncing terrorist acts, the authorities arrested thousands of PTI supporters and around twenty of its top officials, accused of inciting violence. The government has also approved the referral to military courts of people accused of damaging public or military buildings.