Pakistan eyes ban on former PM Imran Khan's PTI party
The Pakistani government is considering banning the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan after days of political unrest
Pakistan's defense minister, Khawaja Asif, said the government was exploring a ban on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The announcement comes amid political instability, and political violence, after the May 9 arrest of Khan on charges of corruption. He was later released on bail.
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"It is under consideration to ban PTI," Asif told reporters. "The PTI has attacked (the) very basis of the state, that never happened before. It can't be tolerated."
Khan is embroiled in a confrontation with Pakistan's government and the powerful military, which has either ruled the country directly throughout its history or overseen civilian governments.
Pakistan's army has initiated trials in the country's controversial military courts of Khan's supporters who were accused of being involved 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 the PTI's leaders would maintain that any ban was symptomatic of the party's appeal with the electorate.
"I don't think such an extreme move would be taken by the government, they are just pressuring the PTI," said Janjua. "I don't think the ban could work and the judiciary will likely undo the decision of banning the party."
Party members repeatedly facing arrest
A high-ranking spokeswoman for Khan's PTI quit the party on Tuesday after days of being repeatedly arrested and released in the wake of the protests.
Shireen Mazari, who is the PTI's senior vice president, said she had been subjected to "12 days of arrest, release, abduction and release."
Mazari was one of the most critical voices against the military-backed establishment and its role in Khan being ousted 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 they were granted bail by courts.
Police had been seeking to search the 70-year-old Khan's home, in the Zaman Park neighborhood of Lahore, but the former international cricket star refused their terms. The compound was a site of battles between his supporters and police who had tried to arrest him in March for not showing up in court.
At least 10 people died in nationwide street unrest, which only receded after Khan's release was ordered by Pakistan's Supreme Court. Khan was freed from arrest earlier this month and he returned home to Lahore.
Khan has faced multiple corruption charges in Pakistani courts. He has been indicted on claims that he unlawfully sold state gifts while serving as prime minister from 2018 to 2022. His previous arrest was based on a new warrant for a separate corruption case related to property. He rejects the charges, saying they have been fabricated in an attempt to bannish him from politics.
Edited by: Natalie Muller