An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad has granted bail to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in two cases registered against him in connection with a PTI rally held in Islamabad on August 20.
Khan was booked in a terrorism case late Saturday on the complaint of Islamabad Saddar Magistrate Ali Javed for threatening the additional sessions judge of the federal capital, Zeba Chaudhry, and police officials.
The former prime minister's bail was approved against a surety bond of Rs 100,000 and he was ordered to appear before the court on September 1.
The court protected Khan from arrest until Sept. 1 over accusations that during a speech over the weekend, he threatened police officers and a female judge.
The developments before the court relief for Khan had raised fears of violent clashes between police and Khan, who is leading mass rallies and seeking snap elections after being ousted. The government says elections will be held as scheduled next year.
On Thursday, Khan told reporters outside the court that he never threatened anyone.
He said the terrorism charges against him were politically motivated and that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government feared Khan’s growing popularity.
'You are making fun of Pakistan'
“You are making fun of Pakistan,” Khan said of Sharif’s government.
The PTI, meanwhile, called on supporters to “come out on the streets and then head to Islamabad the next day” if Imran is taken into custody. “Clear directions from the party given!”
It also added a hashtag in Urdu, which says “Imran Khan is our red line”.
The PTI chairman, addressing the media after his bail approval, said he had been charged because “they [govt] are afraid of the PTI’s popularity” which was “winning by-elections across the country”.
“This is their attempt at a technical knockout,” he said, before adding “whatever decisions they are taking, they should think of the country first”.
PTI's Fawad Chaudhry said that the party will proceed to “move the high court for quashing” the charges against Imran and remained confident that “the FIR will be cancelled”.
He further expressed hope that “by September 10, we will rid ourselves of this government”.
(with inputs from agencies)