On Tuesday, Pakistan’s election oversight body announced its intention to indict the country’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, next week. The charges against him pertain to publicly insulting its officials last year.
Khan appeared before a special tribunal of the Election Commission of Pakistan along with his lawyers amid tight security in the capital, Islamabad.
After a brief hearing, Shoaib Shaheen, one of Khan’s lawyers, said the tribunal decided to charge the former premier with contempt on August 2.
Khan is accused of calling the head of the electoral body, Sikandar Sultan Rajaa, and several of its officials “personal servants” to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at several gatherings. Sharif replaced Khan in April 2022 after he was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in parliament.
Khan had been avoiding appearances before the tribunal for the past several months, saying the electoral body doesn’t have the authority to charge him with contempt.
On Monday, the election oversight body ordered Khan’s arrest after he repeatedly failed to show up before its tribunal to face contempt charges over his public outbursts against election commission officials.
Khan was not arrested and showed up of his own volition on Tuesday before the tribunal.
Since his ouster, Khan has been slapped with more than 150 legal cases, including several on charges of corruption, “terrorism” and inciting people to violence over deadly protests in May that saw his followers attack government and military property across the country.
Violence erupted across Pakistan in May when police arrested Khan in a graft case from a courtroom in Islamabad. Khan, a cricket star turned politician, still has a huge grassroots following in Pakistan.
The days of rioting by his followers subsided only after Khan was released on an order from the Supreme Court.
Since then, several other courts have also given Khan protection from arrest in multiple cases.
Khan also appeared before the country’s Federal Investigation Agency on Tuesday to face charges of exposing a secret document.
Last week, Sharif’s government said it would charge Khan for “exposing an official secret document” last year when he waved a confidential diplomatic letter at a rally, describing it as “proof” that he was threatened and claiming his ouster was a conspiracy.
The document, dubbed Cipher, has not been made public but was apparently a diplomatic correspondence between a Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Khan claims his ouster was part of a US plot, a claim which has been denied by Sharif and Washington.