Wednesday 25 May 2022
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Imran Khan may be arrested for ‘blasphemy’

Some people allegedly affiliated with the PTI of Imran Khan had chosen to heckle Pakistan's current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Medina of all places

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A blasphemy case has been registered against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and others in Faisalabad a week after the former prime minister’s supporters hounded Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on 28 April. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that Imran Khan will be arrested in a case related to “hooliganism and sloganeering against PM Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation visiting Medina”.

Former Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan’s chief of staff Shahbaz Gill, besides others, have been named as accused in the case.

In clips that emerged on social media, pilgrims — allegedly supporters of Imran Khan — shouted ‘chor‘ (thief) and ‘gaddar‘ (traitor) as soon as Shehbaz Sharif and other members of his delegation arrived at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina last Thursday.

The Pakistani pilgrims allegedly used abusive language against the delegation. Police in Medina claimed that five Pakistanis involved in the sloganeering had been arrested.

Meanwhile, in a television interview on 30 April, Imran Khan distanced himself from the pilgrims and said he could “not even imagine asking anyone to carry out sloganeering at the sacred place”.

Punjab Police registered an against Khan and 150 others, including former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rasheed, former adviser to the prime minister Shahbaz Gul, former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Soori, and Khan’s close aides in London, Anil Musarrat and Sahibzada Jehangir two days ago.

Sources said that the Pakistani establishment has three strong cases against Imran Khan — selling off state gifts from the ‘Toshakhana’; the foreign funding case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, which is pending since 14 November 2014. Babar had alleged that there were some financial irregularities in the PTI’s funding from Pakistan and abroad; and now the Medina case.

The sources said that the Medina case was “like a jackpot” with a readymade FIR. They added that Sheikh Rasheed was missing since Sunday or he would have been arrested by now.

The sources reiterated that Imran Khan’s arrest was top priority for the establishment.

If Khan is arrested — a possibility that Pakistan’s new rulers are thinking through — it will add to the anarchy in the country where democratic foundations are already on thin ice.

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