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Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan arrested in connection with army headquarters attack

Despite the release orders issued in the cipher case on Monday by a special court under the Official Secrets Act, Imran Khan remains in custody due to his arrest in the Toshakhna and the £190 million Al-Qadir Trust scandal.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 Rawalpindi Updated on: January 09, 2024 20:18 IST
Imran Khan
Image Source : AP/FILE PHOTO Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures during talk with reporters.

Imran Khan, the incarcerated former prime minister of Pakistan, was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the attack on the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi on May 9 of the previous year. The arrest transpired soon after a release warrant was issued in the cipher case. The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi, which had summoned the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder in connection with the May 9 cases, conducted hearings via video link due to security concerns preventing his physical presence.

Judge Ijaz Asif of the ATC Rawalpindi presided over proceedings related to at least 12 cases linked to the May 9 riots involving Khan and others. During the hearing, the police chief of the Royal Artillery Bazar Police Station, situated near the General Headquarters (GHQ), informed the court about Khan's arrest in the GHQ attack case, for which he was nominated. The police sought Khan's physical remand, but the judge denied the request and instructed the police to meet him at the jail for further investigation.

The violent protests on May 9, 2023, erupted following Khan's arrest by paramilitary Rangers in Islamabad. The protests led to extensive damage to military installations and state buildings, including the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Over 20 installations were damaged or torched during the violent demonstrations following Khan's arrest in a corruption case.

Khan and several party leaders have faced numerous cases since the party's ouster from power in April 2022 and the subsequent fallout from the May 9 violence. Allegations have been made against Khan, accusing him of orchestrating the violence, which he has consistently denied. Ousted through a vote of no confidence in April 2022, Khan was sentenced to three years in jail in the Toshakhana case on August 5 of the same year. While the sentence was initially suspended by the Islamabad High Court, he was subsequently arrested in the cipher case, leading to his ongoing incarceration in Adiala jail.

Imran Khan and wife indicted in Toshakhana Graft case

In a significant development ahead of the general elections, Pakistan's anti-corruption court indicted the incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the Toshakhana graft case on Tuesday. The indictment took place in the Accountability Court in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, where Khan is currently held. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed the case against the couple.

Judge Muhammad Bashir conducted the hearing, and both Khan and Bushra Bibi were present during the reading of the charges. They pleaded not guilty. The case revolves around 108 gifts received by the former prime minister and his wife from various heads of state, out of which they retained 58. The indictment alleges that the couple undervalued the gifts while making mandatory payments to the state. Notably, a jewelry set from the Saudi Crown Prince was among the gifts that the couple reportedly kept at a lower value instead of depositing it in the Toshakhana.

Toshakhana rules permit government officials to keep gifts by paying a specified price for them, but the gifts should be initially deposited. In this case, it is claimed that Khan and his wife either failed to deposit the gifts or obtained them at a lower price by allegedly exploiting their authority.

It's essential to distinguish this Toshakhana case from another in which Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). In that case, Khan was convicted of hiding the proceeds from the sale of state gifts. The ECP disqualified Khan on December 6, and the Islamabad High Court rejected his appeals against the disqualification.

In addition to the Toshakhana case, the accountability court also addressed the Al-Qadir Trust case, involving alleged corruption amounting to about Rs 60 billion. The former first couple faces accusations in this case, and the court was set to indict them. However, the indictment was postponed because Bibi had not received a copy of the case, which was provided on the court's orders.

Simultaneously, the court rejected Khan's bail petition in the Al-Qadir Trust case. His wife had already secured pre-arrest bail in the same case. The allegations in this case involve Khan's failure to deposit £190 million (approximately Rs60 billion) given by the British government. Instead, he allowed a property tycoon to use it to partially offset the amount against a Rs 460 billion fine imposed by the Supreme Court. There are further claims that the tycoon provided over 56 acres of land to establish Al-Qadir University under the Al-Qadir Trust, where both Khan and Bibi serve as trustees. Other co-accused include property developer Malik Riaz Hussain, his son Ali Riaz, two former aides of Khan, Bibi’s friend Farah Gogi, and lawyer Zia Mustafa, all of whom were declared absconders by the court with orders to freeze assets and bank accounts, seize registered vehicles, and issue permanent arrest warrants against them.

Also read | When PM Modi declined Imran Khan's midnight call after Balakot strikes in 2019

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