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Pakistan court orders removal of terrorism charges against former prime minister Imran Khan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses an event in Islamabad on June 22, 2022. (File photo by AFP)

A high court in Pakistan has ordered the removal of terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The 69-year-old allegedly threatened police and judicial officers during a rally in the capital Islamabad in August.

Khan’s lawyers made the announcement on Monday and said the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had quashed terrorism charges against the cricketer-turned-politician.

The charges were said to be related to a speech by Khan in a rally on August 20, when he allegedly threatened police and judicial officers after one of his close aides was denied bail in a sedition case. Khan’s controversial remarks were subsequently booked for “terrorism” under Section 7 of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

Faisal Chaudhry, one of his lawyers, said Khan's alleged offense did not attract terrorism charges, but the IHC ordered that proceedings on the other sections in the case would continue in the relevant forum. "The case against Imran Khan, however, will remain intact, that will now be tried in an ordinary court, instead an anti-terrorism court," Chaudhry said.

Babar Awan, another of his lawyers, said, "This is actually an order to quash the charges."

"It only proves that these are trumped up charges, and just a tool for political victimization."

The Islamabad police brought the charges against Khan and issued an arrest warrant following his public remarks. Khan had on multiple occasions explained that his remarks were not meant to be a threat.

Khan has faced several cases since April, when he was removed in an effort led by his successor Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

One of the cases is at a crucial stage in the high court, which is slated to indict Khan on September 22 in a contempt of court case for threatening the judicial officer. If convicted, he could face disqualification from politics for at least five years.

Another case involves foreign funding for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, which an election tribunal found unlawful.

Khan, who rode to power in a 2018 election allegedly on the back of support from the military, had fallen out of favor with the powerful generals. Khan and the military equally deny he came to power with the military's support.

Since his removal, he has held nationwide rallies to demand snap elections, but the ruling coalition has turned down the demand, saying elections will be held as scheduled by the end of 2023.

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