Friday, 21 Jun 2024

Imran Khan says Pakistan democracy 'at all time low' after release on bail

Imran Khan has claimed democracy in Pakistan has ‘never taken such a battering as it has right now’.

Speaking for the first time since his illegal arrest, the former prime minister has criticised the ‘shocking’ way he was hauled away like ‘some sort of terrorist’.

The 70-year-old was released on bail for two weeks on Friday after his arrest on corruptions charges ignited deadly protests and a tussle with the military. 

At least eight of his supporters were killed in widespread violent clashes with the authorities and 200 police officers injured – more than 2,000 arrests were made.

Once he was released, Mr Khan returned from Islamabad to his hometown under the protection of high level security after the Supreme Court ruled his arrest ‘invalid and unlawful’.

Mr Khan welcomed the court’s order and said the judiciary was Pakistan’s only protection against the ‘law of the jungle’.

His supporters celebrated his release in their hundreds outside the court.

The famous ex-cricketer said he has ‘always condemned violence’ but lamented the lack of democracy in Pakistan in his first interview after his release. 

He told Sky News: ‘Democracy in Pakistan has never taken such a battering as it has right now. 

‘All of our fundamental rights are violated. This sort of thing has never happened. 

‘Democracy is at an all time low. The only hope we have is the judiciary.’

As he left court, Mr Khan told journalists that he did not believe the country’s security agencies were against him, but he suggested that the position of army chief was all-powerful.

‘One man in this country decides whatever and it happens, it’s one man. It’s not the security agencies, it’s one man – the army chief,’ he said, without naming him.

Mr Khan also believes his party, PTI, have been ruthlessly targeted because rival political parties are ‘petrified of elections’.

He said: ‘The gap between us and all the other parties is so huge now that they are petrified they will be wiped out. 

‘So they have decided that the only way they’ll allow elections is if I’m inside jail or killed – there have been two attempts on me – and most of my senior leadership should be jailed too.’

Describing the moment he was arrested last week, Mr Khan added: ‘These guys appear from somewhere attacking with sticks – these guys look like commandos.

‘I thought “they are here to defend me” because my life is at threat and the judge had ordered that I had to be protected. 

‘Then I discovered it was me they were after. So it was shocking really, the way they beat up everyone and took me like some sort of terrorist.’

Mr Khan was ousted as prime minister in April 2022 in a parliamentary no-confidence vote but is currently Pakistan’s most popular leader according to opinion polls.

Judges granted Mr Khan protected bail, meaning he can not be re-arrested on the same charges he faces for two weeks.

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