Last Updated: May 11, 2023, 09:03 IST
Former US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the arrest of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and said that the PTI chief should be released from detention.
He also expressed concern that there is a growing fear that Imran Khan might be killed in custody. He added that the former prime minister has also expressed this concern to the judge before the court on Wednesday.
“There is growing fear that Imran Khan might be killed or assassinated while in custody. Imran Khan expressed this concern to the judge in charge in the court today,” Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter.
“As there is no flight risk, Imran Khan should be released from detention and appropriate measures must be taken to guarantee his security,” he said
Imran Khan told an accountability court in Islamabad on Wednesday that he feared for his life and was afraid that he will meet the same fate as Maqsood Chaprasi, a key witness in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s money laundering case who died last year.
Zalmay Khalilzad claimed that the retired officers attacked the homes of state security leaders during protests and said that there is a difference among senior officers on how Imran Khan has been treated.
The top US envoy also said that the situation in Pakistan is deteriorating badly, affecting people’s lives and also undermining the unity of state institutions.
“The situation in Pakistan is deteriorating badly, affecting people’s lives but also undermining the unity and cohesion of state institutions, including the armed forces. One indication of this is the participation of retired officers in attacking the homes of state security leaders believed to have ordered the very undignified arrest operation against a former Prime Minister and the country’s most popular leader,” he said.
“There are credible reports of differences among senior officers on how Imran Khan has been treated and the violations of the constitution and rule of law to serve the ambitions of a few. Murdering Imran Khan will make things a lot worse in the country,” he added.
He further said that Islamabad will face international condemnation, isolation and even sanctions due to the arrest and the aftermath violence. The establishment should embrace national reconciliation, rule of law, and democracy by agreeing on a date for elections, he added.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) requested a 14-day physical remand of the PTI chief. The anti-corruption court, however, sent Khan on an eight-day physical remand to NAB.
Khan’s dramatic arrest on Tuesday deepened the political turmoil and sparked violent protests across Pakistan. Khan’s party has claimed that at least four people were killed and over a dozen injured in different parts of the country in violent clashes between the security forces and PTI supporters.