Thursday, 7 July, 2022

Former Pakistan premier Imran Khan may face treason charges: Report

In an ironic turn of events, the provisions of Pakistan's constitution that the former premier Imran Khan sought to use against his opponents might be his undoing by becoming the reason for possible charges of treason against him, said a media report.

Notably, with a clutch of petitions filed before various courts citing the provisions of the constitution that Khan tried to use against his opponents during his last fortnight in power, he may face renewed charges of treason and a possible trial, reported Islam Khabar.

Though Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah rejected one of these petitions as "frivolous", the danger still looms on Khan with the decision on other petitions still pending in the courts.

After failing at his attempts to block the no-confidence motion upon realization of falling short of the majority, Khan declared the launch of a "freedom struggle" in the National Assembly within hours of being voted out of power on April 10.

Further, the Supreme Court had to repeatedly intervene in the process of the no-trust motion, by taking note of the rejection of the motion in the National Assembly and summoning all parties for a four-day hearing.

Moreover, dismissing serious concern from the government's legal wing, Khan sent the Foreign Office diplomatic letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, claiming that a foreign country sent a threatening message through Pakistan's envoy, reported the media outlet.

The relevant provisions of the constitution based on which the petitions have been filed against Khan include Article 5(1) under which "loyalty to the state and obedience to the constitution and law" is an inviolable obligation of every citizen.

Another article included in the petitions -- Article 6 -- states that any person who abrogates or attempts to abrogate the constitution by use of force shall be guilty of high treason, adding that an act of treason cannot be validated by any court including the Supreme Court.

Thus, a possible trial against Khan may implicate all those who participated in blocking the parliamentary vote, a legitimate exercise under the Constitution. These cohorts include President Arif Alvi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Deputy Speaker Qasim Shah Suri and two former ministers -- Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Fawad Chaudhary.

However, besides the parliamentary processes, the principal thrust behind the move is from the army that has not taken well to Khan's attempts of implicating. Further, Khan's persistence in a "foreign conspiracy" to implicate the US has also displeased the army.

While also being dragged into the public and political discord, the army has also not taken kindly to Imran Khan persisting with his "foreign conspiracy" charge that implicates the United States, the country's biggest benefactor, muddling diplomatic ties, and also casting aspersions on the new government.

At the political level also, the issue will be highlighted after the word has come from self-exiled PML (N) supremo Nawaz Sharif charging Imran Khan with "high treason" and calling for his trial, reported the media outlet.

The final thrust may come from the army as the statement issued by the army 'huddle' at the 79th Formation Commanders' meeting held on April 12 took note of the "propaganda campaign," and attempt to "divide institution and society," thus hinting at its angry mood.