World

Pakistan court orders Imran Khan must stay in jail

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province (Anjum Naveed/AP/PA)
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province (Anjum Naveed/AP/PA) Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province (Anjum Naveed/AP/PA)

A Pakistani court extended custody for former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday on charges that he had revealed state secrets after his 2022 ousting, and ordered that he remain in custody for two more weeks.

The development is the latest in a number of legal cases against the country’s opposition leader and popular former cricket star turned Islamist politician.

Since his ousting in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April last year Khan has campaigned against Shehbaz Sharif, who succeeded him.

Pakistan Politics
Pakistan Politics Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province (Anjum Naveed/AP/PA)

The case underscores the deepening political turmoil in Pakistan since Khan’s removal and ahead of the next parliamentary elections, due in the last week of January.

Mr Sharif stepped down last month at the completion of parliament’s term and an interim government took over to steer Pakistan through the elections.

Khan is facing more than 150 cases, including charges ranging from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence, and was sentenced to a three-year sentence on corruption charges in early August.

Later that month, an Islamabad High Court suspended that sentence in what amounted to a legal victory for Khan.

Still, he remained behind bars as another court — a special tribunal — ordered he be held over allegedly revealing official secrets in an incident late last year when Khan had waved a confidential diplomatic letter at a rally.

Khan described the document as proof that he was threatened and that his ousting was a conspiracy by Washington, Sharif’s government and the Pakistani military. All three have denied Khan’s claims.

The document, dubbed Cipher, has not been made public by either the government or Khan’s lawyers but was apparently diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

Khan’s lawyer Naeem Panjutha told reporters that a special court hearing the Cipher case has extended custody for the former premier until October 10. The custody was initially due to expire on Tuesday.

Khan, 70, is being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province. He was supposed to be moved to Adiyala Prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, just outside of the capital of Islamabad, where better facilities are available.

Khan’s lawyers say he has refused the move for reasons that remain unknown.