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Can’t Arrest ‘Idea Whose Time Has Come’ Says Ex-Pakistani PM Before Arrest

By Belal Awad · August 5, 2023

In brief…

  • Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan declared his innocence upon being arrested today on charges of selling state gifts.
  • Khan called for an end to the violence that has broken out since his arrest.
  • He said his opponents are "petrified" of national electons later this year.
  • He defended his tenure as PM, citing his strong record of economic growth.
Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan strongly denied all charges against him as he was arrested today after being found guilty of selling state gifts.  PTI

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested after being sentenced to three years in prison for selling state gifts he received while in office - charges he vehemently denies. The arrest marks another chapter in Khan’s ongoing legal battles since his removal from office in April 2022, following a falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment. Dramatic footage shows Khan being taken from the court in Lahore today.

Hours before his arrest, Khan, a former national cricket star, told Al Jazeera that his party, the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will continue to win strong public support in spite of his arrest. “They have arrested 7,500 PTI members, including our entire top leadership,” said Kahn. “But the point is, you cannot arrest an idea whose time has come.” Khan cited polls showing PTI’s popularity at 70%, a level of support unprecedented in Pakistan history.

Khan, 70, addressed the violence that erupted following his arrest - 25 deaths and 600 injuries - as he voiced hope of avoiding further bloodshed. “I don’t want violence if I am jailed again because it feeds into the narrative of those parties who are petrified of elections [later this year]” he said.

Kahn called allegations that his government harbored terrorists baseless, saying the false claims are part of a broader campaign to inject fear into the national elections and thwart PTI. Khan went on to defend his tenure as Prime Minister, citing to the economic growth and record tax collection that took place under his administration. However, he regretted not being able to clamp down adequately on public corruption.

Despite the arrest, Khan said he remains committed to his vision for Pakistan. “I don’t believe I am essential, but my struggle is for 27 years to establish rule of law in Pakistan… That’s what I am fighting for.”