Pakistan’s ex-PM Khan apologises to avoid contempt charges

ISLAMABAD: PakistanFormer Prime Minister Imran Khan apologized in court on Thursday for attacking a female judge during a protest last month that was seen as a threat to the judiciary and judges at large.
The apology, an option expected under the Pakistani legal system, could allow Khan to stay out of jail and avoid contempt charges. Khan, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence in April, campaigned for early elections and claimed he was ousted under a US conspiracy.
The development comes just days after Pakistani police were ordered by a judge to drop terrorism charges against Khan in a separate case of threats against the same judge and also the police.
The legal lawsuits follow a speech by Khan in the capital, Islamabad, in which he vowed to sue Islamabad police chief and a judge for allowing police to question Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff for Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf political party.
Khan made the controversial remarks after it was announced that Gill had allegedly been tortured by police after being arrested for inciting the army to rebel.
During the August protest, Khan at one point directed his comments against Judge Zeba Chaudhrysaid: “You are also prepared, we will also take action against you.”
Khan, a former cricket star turned politician who became prime minister in 2018, is currently out on bail, which has kept him out of arrest in some cases.
“I am ready to apologize … if the court thinks I have crossed the line,” Khan said as he appeared before the Islamabad High Court on Thursday.
“I assure the court that this will not happen again in the future,” he added.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah said Khan’s gesture was appreciated but the former prime minister needs to issue a written apology by October 3, at which point Minallah will review the text and decide whether to drop the case. contempt or not.
Khan’s lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, who is not related to Judge Chaudhry, later told reporters that Khan’s apology would soon be sent to the court in writing.
Dozens of Khan’s supporters gathered outside the building to cheer him on and hundreds of police were deployed to stem the violence and prevent crowds from squeezing into the courthouse on Thursday.
Since his ouster, Khan has alleged – without providing evidence – that Pakistan’s powerful military was involved in an alleged US plot to overthrow him. Washington and the government of Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, have denied the allegation. Sharif also denied Khan’s request, saying elections would be held next year.
In recent weeks, authorities have authorized several cases against Khan – including one for defying a ban on protests.

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