Islamabad, Pakistan – Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been formally named in connection with the killing of a lawyer who accused him of high treason. Khan has called the accusation “foolish”.
Lawyer Abdul Razzaq Shar was on his way to the Balochistan High Court complex in Quetta on Tuesday when he was shot by unknown gunmen, according to a criminal complaint filed on Wednesday. Police officials told Al Jazeera that Shar was shot more than 10 times in his car and died instantly.
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Shar’s son, Siraj Ahmed, filed the complaint against the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, accusing the ex-premier of abetting murder, saying he believed his father was killed in connection with the case he had filed against Khan.
“My father filed a case against Imran Khan under Article 6, and I am certain this is why [Khan] and his PTI people killed my father and spread terror,” Ahmed said in the statement, adding that his father had received death threats after filing his petition against Khan.
Shar had filed his petition last month with the Balochistan High Court, seeking proceedings against the former prime minister under Article 6 of Pakistan’s Constitution, which is connected to charges of high treason.
In his petition, Shar argued that Khan should be tried for treason due to his decision to dissolve the National Assembly in April last year to avoid a no-confidence motion meant to remove him as the prime minister.
In a video posted on Wednesday on PTI social media accounts, Khan called the charges against him absurd and said he wasn’t aware he had been charged in the “foolish case”.
“This case was one of the several filed against me and was never going to proceed, but now I have been charged with murder,” he said. “I am going to Islamabad tomorrow to get bail in 16 cases, but I am prepared to go to jail as I know they will detain me again.”
Khan’s dissolution of parliament on April 3, 2022, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and in a parliamentary vote of no confidence a week later, Khan was removed from power.
Attaullah Tarar, an aide to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, alleged during a press conference on Tuesday that the PTI chief is behind Shar’s killing. The PTI rejected the allegations and demanded a transparent investigation.
Raoof Hasan, the central information secretary for PTI, demanded in a statement issued on Tuesday that Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah be officially named in the murder case.
“Both of them should be removed from their positions and investigated,” Hassan said. He also urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the lawyer’s killing.
The murder case is the latest in a long list of legal challenges faced by Khan, who has had more than 100 cases registered against him since his removal from office as his party is facing a statewide crackdown in the aftermath of violent protests last month.
The PTI chief was arrested on May 9 from an Islamabad court over a corruption case, after which thousands of his supporters protested across the country.
Public and private properties were ransacked, and military installations and monuments were particularly targeted as the government alleged it was a conspiracy that involved PTI workers. The PTI has denied the charges and accused the government of carrying out a witch hunt against the party.
Khan was released within 48 hours of his detention, but thousands of PTI workers are still behind bars. The government has promised to try those involved in attacks on military installations before military courts.
More than 50 people have been approved for trial in military courts, but proceedings have yet to begin.