Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan dismisses cases against him as ‘politically motivated’

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Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has dismissed in an interview with Al Arabiya cases filed against him as politically motivated accusations that aim to exclude him from the election race.

“These are all politically motivated cases to keep me out of the election race… They are worried that if we go into the elections, which [are] on April 30, they will lose,” Khan said, in reference to the elections for the provincial assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He also explained that he did not intend to evade attending court hearings, noting, however, that when he did not show up it was either due to injuries sustained during November’s assassination attempt against him or due to security threats.

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Following the assassination attempt, Khan said he was he was house bound for four months until he fully recovered.

“And since then... I’ve been to every court appearance except one. And the reason was that [this] court is unsafe,” he said, adding that even though the government itself says his life “is under threat,” it would not provide him with security.

He added that when the court hearing shifted to another location, which is the judicial complex, he went there and presented himself. Khan also reiterated his accusations that the government is trying to kill him.

In November, Khan was shot and wounded in the leg during a protest march. He accused Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan and army Gen. Faisal Naseer working for the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency of orchestrating the shooting. Sharif’s government dismissed the accusations as a “pack of lies.”

“They are saying my life is threatened because of some foreign agency. I know it’s not a foreign agency. It is the government itself which is trying to kill me,” Khan said.

Regarding charges that he illegally sold state gifts while he was in office, Khan reiterated that he was innocent.

“This country [has known] me for 50 years… Never in my 50 years have I ever broken the law.”

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April, has claimed that the string of cases against him, which include terrorism charges, are a plot by the government of his successor, Shahbaz Sharif, to discredit him.

Commenting on recent developments that saw the police storm his house on Saturday, Khan slammed the move saying the country has never witnessed “anything like this” as his wife was there alone and he was on his way to Islamabad for a court hearing.

Police stormed Khan’s residence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday and arrested 61 people amid tear gas and clashes between his supporters and security forces.

Khan explained that police could not have arrested him because he had submitted a surety bond that he will attend the court hearing as scheduled on March 18 – which he did.

“If you give the police a surety bond that you will attend the court on the [set] date… the police cannot arrest you… The reason why my [supporters] came outside my house to defend [me] was because they knew it was not legal. It was abduction. They were coming to abduct me, not arrest me.”

Asked how the situation in the country can be resolved, Khan said the only way to do so is through free and fair elections.

“[We need a] party that takes [the] difficult decisions needed to restructure Pakistan [and] to save our economy from total collapse. The only way out [is through] free and fair elections. There is no other solution.” “Whatever you do, political instability will remain, [and this] means the economy will keep sinking.”

He also highlighted his government’s work after it was formed in 2018, noting that despite COVID-19, it picked up the economy.

“[Then] this conspiracy took place and removed our government, [and] since then, Pakistan’s economy is going in a tailspin,” he said in reference to ousting him in April 2022.

Asked if he regrets entering the field of politics, the former cricket star turned politician said politics for him is not a career but “a mission.”

“I [entered] politics for my country, for justice [and for] the rule of law. These were the ideals I came into politics [with] 26 years ago, and I’m still on that course.”

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