Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said the government is considering banning Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The announcement comes amid political instability and political violence, following the May 9 arrest of Khan on charges of corruption. He was later released on bail.
“There are plans to ban the PTI,” Asif told reporters. “The PTI attacked (the) very base of the state, which has never happened before. This cannot be tolerated.”
Khan is embroiled in a confrontation with the Pakistani government and powerful military, which has either directly ruled the country throughout its history or overseen civilian governments.
Pakistan’s military has initiated trials in the country’s controversial military courts against Khan supporters accused of involvement in attacks on military establishments. Some 7,000 PTI members and supporters have already been arrested.
Haroon Janjua, DW correspondent in the capital, Islamabad, said PTI leaders would maintain that any ban was symptomatic of the party’s appeal to the electorate.
“I don’t think such an extreme measure would be taken by the government, they are just putting pressure on the PTI,” Janjua said. “I don’t think the ban can work and the judiciary will likely overturn the decision to ban the party.”
A high-ranking spokeswoman for Khan’s PTI quit the party on Tuesday after being repeatedly arrested and released following the protests.
Shireen Mazari, who is the senior vice president of the PTI, said she was subjected to “12 days of arrest, release, kidnapping and release”.
Mazari was one of the most critical voices against the military-backed establishment and its role in ousting Khan in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April last year.
The PTI claims that hundreds of its workers and leaders have been rearrested even after being released on bail by the courts.
Police were seeking to raid the 70-year-old Khan’s home in the Zaman Park area of Lahore, but the former international cricket star refused his terms.
The compound was the scene of battles between his supporters and police who tried to arrest him in March for failing to appear in court.
At least 10 people have died in nationwide street unrest, which only receded after Khan’s release was ordered by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Khan was released from arrest earlier this month and returned home to Lahore.
Khan has faced multiple corruption charges in Pakistani courts. He was charged with illegally selling state gifts while he was prime minister from 2018 to 2022.
His previous arrest was based on a new warrant for a separate property-related corruption case. He denies the charges, saying they were fabricated in order to banish him from politics.
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