Pakistan court grants bail to Imran Khan aide

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An aide to former prime minister Imran Khan was granted bail on Wednesday, a week after being arrested for allegedly harassing election commission officials.

Fawad Chaudhry, who was information minister under Khan, had been arrested in a predawn raid on his home in the eastern city of Lahore.

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“A lower court in Islamabad granted bail to Fawad Chaudhry against surety bonds of rupees 20,000, 20,000 ($75) and on condition that such words won’t be repeated again,” a spokesman of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party told AFP.

His lawyer Faisal Chaudhry confirmed the details to reporters outside court.

Pakistan is facing overlapping crises including economic decline and a deteriorating security situation, with political chaos posing serious problems for the weak coalition government ahead of general elections due in October.

Chaudhry was accused of having “harassed and intimidated” election commission officials and their families in televised comments, according to a police report shared by PTI.

Khan and other PTI leaders have been caught up in a slew of court cases, a common hurdle facing opposition groups, which rights monitors say are orchestrated to shut them out of office.

The former cricketing star’s populist PTI government was ousted by a vote of no-confidence in March last year after his coalition partners switched allegiance.

He has since pushed for early polls by holding rallies, pulling out of parliament and dissolving the two provincial assemblies his party controls in a bid to force the government’s hand.

The government has overseen a further backslide in the economy, holding off for months on meeting tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions that would help bring some stability, as its popularity waned.

But with the prospect of national bankruptcy looming and no friendly countries willing to offer less painful bailouts, Islamabad has started to bow to pressure.

The IMF on Tuesday launched an urgent visit to the country.

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