Pakistan court orders ex-PM Imran Khan to appear next week

If Khan is presented before the court on November 28, it will be his first public appearance since he was jailed in August.

Khan was removed as prime minister after he lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022 [File: Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in Pakistan has asked the authorities to present jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan before it next week for trial in a case related to the alleged leaking of state secrets.

The special court established under the Official Secrets Act in capital Islamabad on Thursday said Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, also in jail, should be produced in court on November 28.

It will be Khan’s first public appearance since he was imprisoned in August in another case related to the illegal selling of state gifts he received from foreign leaders and governments during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.

“We now have to see that this [court] order is implemented,” Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Panjutha, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.

Khan, 71, was removed as prime minister after he lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022 – a move he blamed on a conspiracy hatched by the United States in collusion with his political opponents and the powerful military.

The former cricket star claimed a diplomatic cable, or cypher, sent by the then Pakistani ambassador to the US proved his allegations. Both Washington and Islamabad have rejected the charges.

In dozens of mass rallies Khan held following his removal, he attacked his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, and the military for plotting to remove him, triggering mass protests by the members and supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

As the government cracked down on protests, which sometimes turned deadly, dozens of cases, some containing serious charges including terrorism, murder and sedition, were filed against Khan and other leaders of his party.

Pakistani authorities also accused Khan of leaking the contents of the diplomatic cypher for political gains and arrested Qureshi as well in the same case.

On August 5, Khan was imprisoned for three years in the state gifts case. Though a court granted him bail on August 29, he remained in custody as the trial in the cypher case continued inside the jail.

However, on Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court declared his trial in jail illegal and all the proceedings in the case so far, including an indictment last month, as “null and void”.

Khan’s legal troubles mount as Pakistan heads towards a crucial general election in which his PTI party is expected to make huge gains, even though the PTI chief’s conviction bars him from contesting.

Source: Al Jazeera