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Pakistan mulls banning Imran Khan’s party – minister

Pakistan mulls banning Imran Khan’s party – minister


ISLAMABAD, May 24 (Reuters) – Pakistan is considering banning former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party for attacking the state, the defense minister said on Wednesday, a move that could infuriate his supporters and exacerbate his confrontation with the military establishment.

The former cricket star is embroiled in the critical latest phase of a decades-old rivalry between civilian politicians and the mighty military, which has directly ruled or overseen governments throughout Pakistan’s history.

The confrontation drew widespread protests from Khan’s supporters, sparking fresh fears about the stability of the nuclear-armed country as it battles its worst economic crisis in decades.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told reporters that Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had attacked “the very base of the state”, which could not be tolerated.

“There are plans to ban the PTI,” he said, adding that parliament is expected to give final approval to the government’s decision to ban the party.

The minister referred to protesting Khan supporters who this month attacked military installations, including army headquarters and government buildings.

Khan, or a PTI spokesperson, were not immediately available for comment.

Khan became prime minister in 2018 with the tacit support of the military, although both sides denied it at the time. The army saw Khan, with his conservative and nationalist agenda, as likely to ensure the protection of his interests.

But Khan later fell out with generals after he was seen to have tried to interfere with key security promotions, and he was ousted as prime minister after losing a vote of confidence in 2022 .

Khan, 70, has since campaigned for a snap general election, rallying supporters across the country, but the prime minister who replaced him, Shahbaz Sharif, has rejected calls for an election before the end of this year .

Khan also faces corruption charges which he dismissed as being prepared in an effort to banish him from politics.

Khan was arrested on May 9 in connection with the charges, sparking protests by his supporters and their attacks on military installations.

Khan was later released on bail.

Anti-corruption agency investigators questioned him for about three hours on Tuesday.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Written by Shivam Patel; Editing by Toby Chopra

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Asif Shahzad

Thomson Reuters

Shahzad is an accomplished media professional with over two decades of experience. He mainly reports on the regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a great interest and in-depth knowledge of Asia. He also reports on politics, economics, finance, business, commodities, Islamist militancy, human rights.




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