Khan to appear in Pakistan court as government warns of imminent arrest

(Update 1: updates with Khan’s lawyer’s statement, changes headline, lede)

Islamabad, Aug 24 (EFE).- Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan is set to appear in an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on Thursday to seek further bail in a case containing terror charges, even as the government warned that the leader could be arrested if his bail petition was rejected.

“It was decided that we will file a bail application in ATC in Islamabad tomorrow and Imran Khan will himself appear,” the ousted PM’s lawyer Babar Awan Awan said in a video message released to media after Khan presided over a meeting of his legal committee at his residence.

Awan lashed out against the terror charges slapped against the leader, calling it a fake case that had affected Pakistan’s credibility internationally.

“There was no blast, or fire from a Kalashnikov (rifle),” said the lawyer adding that “(the case) has destroyed the entire narrative about Pakistan’s two-decade long anti-terrorism efforts.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had warned that the government would be left with no choice but to arrest Khan from court room if his bail was rejected.

“The final decision has yet to be taken in this regard but it’s highly likely we will arrest him,” Sanaullah told EFE.

Khan faces terrorism charges for threatening police officers with legal proceedings over alleged custodial torture of his party colleague Shahbaz Gill.

The ex-prime minister had warned Judge Zeba Chaudhry for approving police’s request for Gill’s second physical remand.

Khan’s three-day protective bail ends Thursday. The Islamabad High Court has also initiated contempt proceedings against him.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, vice chairman of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said the case against Khan lacked legality.

“It’s a bogus case and an example of political victimization that has ruined the country’s image internationally,” Qureshi told EFE on Wednesday, warning of a “strong reaction” by the party if the ex-PM’s bail was rejected and he was detained.

He said the party would stage a huge peaceful protest countrywide.

Hundreds of supporters of the former prime minister Monday thronged the streets of Islamabad over the possibility of his arrest.

PTI activists and Khan’s personal and volunteer guards have been keeping a vigil outside his house since Sunday night, vowing to prevent his arrest.

“We will be here until Khan asks us to leave,” Atif Hussain, a 24-year old young man, told EFE. “I will not hesitate to sacrifice my life for him.” EFE


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