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Pakistan to try 33 supporters of ex-PM Imran Khan in military courts for recent violence

ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani government said on Friday that 17 more supporters of Imran Khan would be tried in military courts for recent anti-government violence, bringing the total number of supporters of the former prime minister before military courts to 33.

The development comes amid a government crackdown on Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and its supporters following violent protests following Khan’s arrest earlier this month in Islamabad. .

For days, Khan’s supporters attacked public property and military installations across the country. The violence only ceased after Khan was released by order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. At least 10 people were killed in clashes between Khan supporters and police.

Interior Minister Rasan Sanaullah Khan, who is not linked to the former prime minister, said ‘only 33 suspects have been selected for military trials’ – despite police arresting nearly 5,000 supporters of Khan over the past two weeks.

The minister said that about 80% of those detained have been released on bail pending trial in civil courts. He also denounced Imran Khan, a crocket star turned Islamist politician, saying that as opposition leader he was the “mastermind behind the violent attacks on military installations”.

“We have supporting evidence,” the minister said without giving further details.

Khan himself faces more than 100 court cases, including corruption charges during his term as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, and has also been charged with terrorism for inciting violence. In court, he was granted protection from arrest in several cases, pending trial.

On Thursday, Khan proposed talks between the government and his party in a bid to end the ongoing political unrest. The government did not respond to the offer.

On Friday, Khan claimed that several officials and lawmakers from his party had “resigned at gunpoint” – and had not left his camp because of riots by his supporters, as some said.

Apart from political turmoil, Pakistan is also grappling with an unprecedented economic downturn. Talks between the government of Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the International Monetary Fund to revive the $6 billion bailout have been suspended since December.

Khan claimed his ousting in April 2022 in a no-confidence vote in parliament was illegal and a plot by Sharif, Washington and the military to discredit him. All three have denied the allegations.

ABC News

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