Former Pakistani PM charged with terrorism – RT World News

Supporters of Imran Khan violently clashed with police outside a courthouse

Islamabad police have filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan after crowds of his supporters rioted outside a courthouse in the Pakistani capital. Khan was due to appear in court on Saturday to answer the corruption charges.

Khan, along with more than a dozen officials from his Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and dozens of his supporters, have been charged with a litany of offenses including rioting, obstruction, assault on police officers, arson, intimidation and acts of terrorism, Pakistani newspaper The Nation reported on Sunday.

The charges stemmed from a riot outside Islamabad’s court complex on Saturday, in which protesters threw rocks and firebombs at police as they waited for Khan to arrive at the building. A dozen police vehicles were set on fire and officers responded with tear gas.

More than 50 officers were injured and 59 Khan supporters were arrested, the Associated Press reported.

Police raided Khan’s residence in Lahore earlier on Saturday, shortly after he left for the court date in Islamabad. A crowd of supporters of the former prime minister tried to block police from carrying out the raid, leading to clashes and 30 arrests. The raid was not the first on Khan’s home, and the former leader had previously accused authorities of trying to arrest and execute him.

Khan never entered the courtroom on Saturday. In a video message to his supporters, he claimed police fired tear gas at his vehicle, preventing him from getting out. The judge postponed his hearing to March 31.

A former cricketer, Khan became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018 but was ousted in 2022. He is accused by the state of illegally selling official gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries during his tenure. Khan says the corruption charges are politically motivated and aimed at preventing him from returning to power.

Khan established economic and diplomatic ties with Russia and China during his tenure, and he has since claimed his withdrawal was orchestrated by the United States in an effort to install a more docile ruler.

The PTI has been leading protests across Pakistan and calling for snap elections since Khan’s ousting. During a November rally in Wazirabad, an assailant opened fire on Khan, wounding him and eight others.

Despite his ongoing legal drama, Khan is the most popular political leader in Pakistan, with an approval rating of 61%, according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month. Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sits at 32%.

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