Pakistan court grants Imran Khan bail in terrorism cases


Lahore (AP) — A Pakistani court on Tuesday granted former Prime Minister Imran Khan a weeklong bail in two new cases in which he faces terrorism charges, officials said. The ruling gave the embattled ousted premier and now popular opposition leader another brief reprieve from arrest.

Since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April, the 70-year-old former cricket player turned Islamist politician has become embroiled in a series of legal cases against him, including on terrorism charges and graft while in office.

Khan’s standoff with the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, has turned increasingly violent in recent days.

In the latest terrorism cases, Khan is accused of inciting people to violence when he traveled to Islamabad last Saturday to face indictment in a graft case. His followers clashed with police outside the court and Khan never appeared before the judge.

The graft case was later postponed till later in March. A separate terrorism case against Khan pertains to a rally last year when he verbally threatened a female judge.

Khan denies all charges against him, saying he is being victimized by Sharif’s government. After Tuesday’s ruling by a court in Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province, a close Khan associate repeated those claims.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader in Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf party, said the terrorism charges were “politically motivated.”

Since the latest violence on Saturday, police have arrested hundreds of Khan’s supporters for attacking police in Islamabad and also in Lahore, where his followers clashed for two days with officers earlier last week when police first attempted to arrest Khan.

Also, after he was wounded last November in a shooting attack while leading a rally when a gunman sprayed his vehicle and entourage with bullets, Khan has also insisted there are plots to assassinate him. That attack killed one of Khan’s supporters and wounded 13.

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