Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan Charged with Terrorism

Photo credit: AP

Pakistani police have escalated political tensions in the country by filing terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he holds mass rallies in his efforts to return to office.

After being ousted from power in April through a parliamentary vote, Khan pushes for new elections and has been making fiery speeches to gatherings across the South Asian nation. Without providing any evidence, Khan alleged there was a US plot to oust him and that the Pakistani military took part in it.

Police charges followed after Khan’s speech in Islamabad on Saturday, when he alleged a close aide had been tortured after his arrest, and he vowed to sue police officers and a female judge.

It is the police – under Pakistan’s legal system – that file the ‘first information report’ detailing the charges against an accused to a magistrate judge. Only after the judge allows the investigation to move forward, the police can arrest and question the accused.

In Khan’s case, the report even includes Magistrate Judge Ali Javed’s testimony describing being at Khan’s Islamabad rally and hearing him criticize the inspector general of Pakistan’s police and another judge.

Khan, who previously accused the Pakistani government of temporarily blocking YouTube to prevent the live access to his speech at a political rally, had not immediately addressed the charge sheet being lodged against him and appeared to be free.

Videos published online by Pakistan’s opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Khan’s political party, supporters surrounded his home to potentially stop police from reaching it.

The electronic media regulator banned on Saturday the live broadcast of Khan’s speeches, citing his hate speech against state institutions.

If found guilty of the new charges of threatening police officers and the judge, Khan could face several years in prison although he has not been detained on other lesser charges levied against him in his recent campaigning against the government.

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