Islamabad: As the political landscape in Pakistan is heating up amid the election results being declared, former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi were granted bail by an anti-terrorism court on Saturday in cases linked to the violent riots on May 9 last year. Imran received bail in 12 cases while Qureshi got bail in 13, reported the Express Tribune.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder was granted bail in the cases pertaining to the attacks on the General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Army Museum, after the court ordered a surety bond of Rs 0.1 million in all 12 cases. Imran and Qureshi were indicted in the cases on February 6 and were produced in the court, where the ex-PM said he was illegally arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC)
On May 9, the supporters of Imran Khan’s party vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The violent protests came in the wake of Imran’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges. He was later released on bail. Police arrested over 10,000 workers of PTI and more than 100 were attempted to be tried under the Army Act.
Imran was booked in multiple cases related to the violence on May 9, but he has the allegations mentioned in the first information reports (FIRs) of the cases. The former PM was charged with plotting and incitement to violence and was even named in two terrorism cases.
In December last year, PTI vice chairman was rearrested and manhandled by police officials outside the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after his release from Adiala Jail. He was sent to judicial remand in a fresh case related to the May 9 protests filed at that time.
In a major victory for Imran, independent candidates that are mostly backed by his party are dominating the general elections held on Thursday, outshining his rival Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and forcing him to make preparations for a coalition government. Out of the 250 seats counted so far, PTI-backed independents have won 99 seats, while PML-N won 71.
After initially rebuffing the possibility of a coalition government, Nawaz Sharif gave a speech on Friday, claiming to be the single largest party and said he told his younger brother Shehbaz to reach out to rival parties for the formation of a coalition government. PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto agreed on a coalition government after tense negotiations.
Meanwhile, the PTI has also convened a meeting to discuss forging alliances with other political parties, after the party-backed independents sprung a surprise by winning the most seats overall. PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan, Asad Qaiser, Ali Muhammad Khan and others would attend the meeting that would discuss the formation of the new central and provincial governments, the party said.
Imran Khan’s victory speech
The incarcerated former PM Imran also claimed victory in the elections and thanked the public for its overwhelming support, adding that the ‘London plan’ failed because of a massive turnout. “You have laid the foundation of real freedom by casting your votes yesterday [Thursday] and I congratulate you on the victory in the general elections 2024,” he said, while claiming that the party-backed candidates will win 150 seats.
Imran had been in jail since August, and was convicted three times in six days in the lead-up to the polls for 10, 14 and seven years in cases related to state secrets, graft and unlawful marriage. His rival Nawaz returned from four years of self-imposed exile and was considered the front-runner to lead the country, having buried a long-running feud with the powerful military.
Several leaders of his party are jailed and barred from contesting the elections, while the Election Commission denied the party’s electoral symbol ahead of the polls, forcing party candidates to contest as independents. Despite troubles, the candidates put up a strong effort to deny either of their rival parties a chance to win the majority of the National Assembly seats.
(with inputs from agencies)
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