In a relief to embattled Imran Khan, a top Pakistani court here granted protective bail to the former prime minister on Friday in eight terrorism cases and a civil case after he appeared before the court, hours after another court suspended non-bailable arrest warrants against him till March 18 in a corruption case.
Khan, the 70-year-old chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, travelled to the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a bulletproof vehicle to seek protective bail in nine cases.
A two-member bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Farooq Haider conducted the hearing on bail pleas filed against the cases that are lodged under terrorism sections, according to Geo TV.
For the five cases in Islamabad, the court granted bail to the PTI chief till March 24 and for the three cases in Lahore, Khan received bail till March 27, the report said.
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Meanwhile, Justice Saleem also heard the bail pleas that Khan filed against the civil case registered against him, it said.
Khan told Justice Saleem that security personnel launched the operation to arrest him as though he was a terrorist in hiding.
“Such a huge force was sent to arrest me like a terrorist was hiding. There is no example in Pakistan’s history that the police unleashed at their own people to arrest a political leader,” Khan told the court.
Ahead of the LHC decision, a tense calm prevailed upon Lahore’s upscale Zaman Park near Khan’s residence, which was the scene of pitched battles for two days between his defiant supporters and Punjab Police.
The clashes ultimately subsided after the courts intervened on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Islamabad High Court suspended non-bailable arrest warrants issued against Khan till March 18, providing him with another chance to appear before the district court hearing the Toshakhana case.
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana, and selling them for profit.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October last year for not sharing details of the sales.
The election body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.
Khan has vehemently denied those charges.
According to Khan, he was facing over 80 different cases in various courts across Pakistan.
Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.
Since his ouster, Khan has been asking for early elections to remove what he termed an “imported government” led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the parliament completes its five-year tenure.