Pakistani Court Drops Terrorism Charges Against Former-PM Imran Khan

Published: 21 September 2022

Imran Khan WEF2Pakistan’s high court dismissed the terrorism charges brought against former Prime Minister Imran Khan last month. (Photo: Remy Steinegger/World Economic Forum, Flickr, License)

By Henry Pope

Pakistan’s high court dismissed on Monday the terrorism charges brought against Imran Khan, the country’s former prime minister, who appears to have escaped the latest of legal challenges brought against him since he was ousted from power last month.

The court determined that Khan’s actions didn't amount to a violation of the country’s  anti-terrorism act, Faisal Chaudhry, one of his lawyers told Reuters on Monday.

“The case against Imran Khan, however, will remain intact, that will now be tried in an ordinary court, instead an anti-terrorism court,” Chaudhry said.

According to the initial police report, tweeted by a Pakistani journalist, Khan made explicit threats at a public gathering on August 20 towards members of the judiciary and the police, whom he believes responsible for the arrest and mistreatment of his senior aide, Shahbaz Gill.

During Khan’s address to the masses before him, he vowed that he would not spare those behind his aide’s mistreatment—including Zeba Chaudhry, a female judge—and promised that they would eventually face charges of their own.

As the former PM’s speech was being live streamed, the independent and constitutionally established Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority briefly censored the country’s access to YouTube in an effort to contain his rhetoric.

Khan has made waves in Pakistan’s government since he suffered a crippling defeat back in April, when he faced a no-confidence vote at the hands of the country’s National Assembly.

His administration originally attempted to block the vote, citing “foreign interference,” but these efforts were ultimately overturned.

Rather than face the vote, Khan instead manoeuvred to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections, but this was ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional in a 5-0 decision. The vote then proceeded on April 10, which resulted in 174 lawmakers out of 342 calling for Khan’s dismissal, meaning he lost by the slimmest of margins.

Khan’s dismissal ended his tenure as Pakistan’s twenty-second prime minister. The country has yet to see its head of state complete a full five-year term since it attained its independence in 1947.

Since his ousting, the former cricket star turned politician has voiced his discontent at the country’s new leaders and has vowed to make a political comeback.

Many have observed, however, that his provocative rhetoric has earned him the ire of not only his political rivals, but of the country’s military and authorities as well.

The August 20 police report against Khan argued that his threats against senior police officials and Judge Chaudhry were intended to terrorize them into not carrying out their legal obligations. Islamabad authorities further denounced the former PM’s comments and stated that anybody “threatening the police or making false accusations will be dealt with according to the law.”

But the order to quash the proceedings “only proves that these are trumped up charges, and just a tool for political victimisation,” Babar Awan, another of Khan’s lawyers, told Reuters, as divisions amongst Pakistan’s political party leaders become more and more apparent.