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  • 22 Jul, 2024

UN Group Declares Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan's Detention Arbitrary

UN Group Declares Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan's Detention Arbitrary

Geneva-based UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says ‘appropriate remedy’ would be to release Khan ‘immediately’.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared that former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is being arbitrarily detained in violation of international law. In an opinion issued on Monday, the Geneva-based group called for Khan's immediate release and compensation, stating that his detention "had no legal basis and appears to have been intended to disqualify him from running for political office."

Khan, 71, has been embroiled in over 200 legal cases since his removal as prime minister in April 2022. He has consistently maintained that these cases are politically motivated, designed to keep him out of power. Currently imprisoned in Adiala jail near Islamabad, Khan faces multiple convictions, including a recent ruling that his marriage to Bushra Bibi was illegal under Islamic law.

The UN working group's decision highlights the contentious nature of Khan's legal troubles. While some of his sentences have been suspended or overturned, including a 14-year prison term for corruption and a 10-year sentence for treason, he remains incarcerated. The group's opinion suggests that Khan's prosecution was "not grounded in law and was reportedly instrumentalised for a political purpose."

This development occurs against a backdrop of political turmoil in Pakistan. Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), faced significant challenges in the recent February elections, with candidates forced to run as independents. Despite this, PTI-aligned candidates secured more seats than any other party but were kept from power by a coalition considered loyal to the military.

Analysts suggest that Pakistan's powerful military, which has historically wielded significant influence in the country's politics, is likely behind the numerous cases against Khan. The former cricket star-turned-politician fell out with top generals after his ouster, leading to an unprecedented campaign against the military establishment. Khan even accused top army officers of involvement in an assassination attempt against him in November 2022, a claim the military rejected.

The international community has taken notice of the situation. A recent US congressional resolution called for an independent investigation into allegations of rigging in Pakistan's 2024 elections. While Pakistan's government denounced this resolution, Khan's party welcomed it, claiming that their electoral victory had been unfairly converted into a defeat by the country's election commission.

The UN working group's opinion adds a new dimension to the ongoing political drama in Pakistan. It raises questions about the legitimacy of Khan's detention and the broader implications for democracy and rule of law in the country. The call for Khan's immediate release and compensation puts additional pressure on the Pakistani government and judiciary to address these concerns.

As the situation continues to unfold, the international community will be closely watching Pakistan's response to the UN group's findings. The case of Imran Khan remains a focal point in discussions about political freedom, judicial independence, and the balance of power in Pakistan's complex political landscape.