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'Imran Khan is Our Red Line': Possible Arrest of Ex-PM on Terrorism Charges Leaves Pakistan on Edge

© AFP 2023 / AAMIR QURESHIA vendor sells flags of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party portraying Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan, outside the Khan's residence in Islamabad on August 22, 2022.
A vendor sells flags of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party portraying Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan, outside the Khan's residence in Islamabad on August 22, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.08.2022
Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have threatened to take to the streets in protest if police arrest the opposition leader in a terrorism case. Khan has been vocally critical of his successor Shehbaz Sharif's government and accused it of ordering a crackdown on his supporters.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's supporters are continuing to flock to his residence in the capital on Monday, after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted the cricketer-turned-politician protective bail from arrest until Thursday.
Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) now has to approach an anti-terrorism court before Thursday in order to get an anticipatory bail, after being charged with “terrorism” for allegedly berating a senior police official and a district judge.
Khan’s lawyer told a two-judge bench at the High Court that the First Information Report (FIR) against Khan was “politically motivated” at the behest of the incumbent government.
Fawad Chaudhry, a close aide of Khan's and a former federal minister, warned that PTI’s supporters would block the roads in the event of the former PM’s arrest, as speculation mounted on social media overnight about a possible arrest warrant for Khan.
“Imran Khan is our red line,” he said.
For his part, former minister Ali Amin Khan warned that PTI supporters from across the country will “take over” Islamabad in the event of Khan's arrest.
Massive rallies led by former federal ministers and PTI politicians were also staged in Khan’s support across major Pakistani cities late on Sunday evening.

What Did Imran Khan Say?

Khan has been booked under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act after being accused of terrorizing and threatening “top police officials and a respected female additional sessions judge” during a speech delivered at Islamabad’s F-9 Park on 20 August.
Khan warned during his address at the rally that he won’t “spare” the inspector general of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police for working at the behest of the Shehbaz Sharif government in harassing PTI supporters.
The rally was called to express solidarity with Khan’s close advisor Dr. Shehbaz Gill, who was arrested this month on charges of “inciting rebellion” in the Army. Gill has been charged under the Army Act.
PTI has rejected the charges against Gill, who his associates say was also tortured in custody on the instructions of the military.
Pakistan's former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) chief Imran Khan, delivers a speech to his supporters during a rally celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pakistan's independence day in Lahore on August 13, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.08.2022
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The PTI chairman also warned Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry that “she should prepare herself as action would be taken against her” in the same address.
Chaudhry last week allowed a two-day physical remand of Gill after a request from Islamabad police.
Khan told the Islamabad rally that “neutrals” had ordered the police to detain and torture Gill. Neutrals is a reference to Pakistan’s security establishment, comprising its Armed Forces and the spy agency.
The former prime minister, toppled in a parliamentary vote in April, has accused the US of instigating a conspiracy with the help of "stooges" which led to his government's ouster before it could complete his full term.
In speeches since April, Khan has been scathingly critical of Prime Minister Sharif for his handling of the economy, including domestic inflation as well as the highly depreciating Pakistani currency vis-a-vis US dollar.
Khan has also blamed the military establishment for the current state of the economy, arguing that it could have prevented the "foreign conspiracy" which led to his ouster.

Imran Khan is a ‘Threat’ to National Security, Says Minister

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and other senior members of the Sharif Cabinet have backed police action against Khan, as they appeared to remain undeterred by threats from PTI supporters.
“Imran Khan will have to face the law for threatening and hurling abuses at the Magistrate and Police officers. Such acts of brazen thuggery are responsible for instigating extremism in society. You [Imran Khan] are not allowed to challenge the writ of the state by inciting rebellion,” Sanaullah said.
He further described Khan as an “instigator.”
Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has called Khan a “foreign agent” who wants to incite a civil war in the country.
“By challenging the national institutions and the state writ, they are inciting the people to violence, lawlessness, rebellion and riot,” she remarked.
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