Imran Khan’s ‘fascism’ jibe as Pakistan police file new cases

The statement follows police filing ‘terrorism’ and other charges against the ex-PM over weekend clashes in capital Islamabad.

Supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Khan's supporters pose with a placard in the shape of a cricket bat outside his house in Lahore [File: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the police action against him and his supporters as a sign of “fascism” in the country.

“Fascism at unprecedented levels with police in Islamabad raiding homes without warrants to abduct PTI workers. Where the worker is not present, children as young as 10 yrs are picked up,” Khan tweeted late on Sunday, demanding the immediate release of his party’s workers.

The statement by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief came shortly after more cases, including terrorism charges, were filed against him and other PTI leaders and supporters over clashes with the police during his appearance in a court in capital Islamabad on Saturday.

Khan on Monday also alleged a “plot to kill” him at the court complex – not the first time the 70-year-old leader has alleged a conspiracy by his political opponents to assassinate him.

imran khan
Policemen use heavy machinery to enter Khan’s residence in Lahore on Saturday [File: Arif Ali/AFP]

In a video address, he appealed to the country’s Supreme Court to take notice of alleged plot.

“The Islamabad judicial complex was full of police and Rangers (paramilitary force). Yet there were unidentified men stationed there. As I reached the court, my associate came running towards me and told me to reverse the car and leave. He said it was a trap. This was not about sending me to jail, this was about murdering me,” Khan said.

Khan appealed to Umar Ata Bandial, the chief justice of Pakistan, to allow his future court appearances through a video link.

“When I step out, my life is at risk. Nobody is willing to take responsibility. I just want to request to please grant me permission for video conferencing for a hearing, so that I don’t get exposed. Even now I barely survived, they would have otherwise trapped me,” he said.

Khan was summoned by the Islamabad court on Saturday in a case related to state gifts he received during his tenure as the prime minister between 2018 and 2022.

Prosecutors accuse Khan of selling the gifts and not declaring them in documents submitted before the election commission. He denies the allegation.

As he arrived in Islamabad to appear before the court on Saturday, hundreds of his supporters clashed with the police who carried batons and fired tear gas. Dozens of people and police officers were injured while several vehicles and a police checkpoint were torched in the violence.

The chaos prevented Khan from entering the court, which marked his appearance from his car and cancelled the arrest warrants against the politician.

On Sunday, the Islamabad police said they filed a first information report (FIR) against Khan and many of his party leaders, charging them with rioting, assault on government authorities, criminal intimidation, and other acts of “terrorism”.

Police also said they arrested nearly 200 PTI members for “arson, vandalism and the attacks on police”.

Ali Nawaz Awan, one of the PTI leaders named in the FIR, told Al Jazeera the crackdown on party workers showed the government’s “high-handedness”.

“What the party and our leaders are facing is an onslaught. The state has completely set aside rule of law and constitution,” he said.

Since his removal from power in April last year, Khan has repeatedly said the government was planning to arrest him to bar him from contesting the general elections due later this year.

Another PTI leader, Musarrat Cheema, alleged that police in the eastern city of Lahore “barged inside her house without a warrant” early on Monday.

“We are living in the age of fascism,” Cheema told Al Jazeera, repeating her party chief’s charges.

Khan’s residence in Lahore was also raided on Saturday while he was in Islamabad for the court appearance. In a speech on Sunday, Khan condemned the raid and said the authorities violated the sanctity of his house in his absence.

On Wednesday, PTI plans to hold a large rally in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province where assembly elections are to be held on April 30.

“[The rally] will be more like a referendum. It will tell the nation where the public stands and where the cabal of crooks and their handlers stand,” Khan said.

Source: Al Jazeera