Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for Imran Khan

The former PM's remarks aimed at a judge during a political rally have come in for legal scrutiny

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A court in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Imran Khan in a contempt case, local media have reported.

The September 30 warrant relates to remarks Mr Khan made regarding a judge and senior police officials during a public rally on August 20.

At the rally, Mr Khan, who is chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, reportedly warned judge Zeba Chaudhry and the judiciary of consequences over what he described as “biased” attitudes towards his movement.

A civil court judge issued the warrant hours after the former prime minister submitted an affidavit in the contempt case.

“Warrant issuance is a legal process. Imran Khan did not appear before the court in last hearing,” police in Islamabad tweeted on Saturday. "The warrant has been issued to ensure his presence in the court."

There are no immediate plans to arrest Mr Khan, a senior Islamabad police official told The National.

Mr Khan had earlier said he “might have crossed a line” in his criticism of Ms Chaudhry and was willing to apologise.

The politician had said that his remarks were not meant to be a threat.

Mr Khan has faced several legal cases since he was removed from power in April in a parliamentary vote of confidence won by opposition parties, an effort that was led by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The warrant was issued soon after Maryam Nawaz, a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), held a press conference in which she called for a raid on Mr Khan’s residence to recover a missing copy of a diplomatic cypher that carried details of purported US threats to his government.

Mr Khan had used the issue of the cypher to build a narrative that Washington had hatched a conspiracy to dislodge his government.

Mr Khan, who became prime minister in 2018, reportedly with the support of Pakistan's military, eventually fell out with the country's powerful generals.

Both the military and Mr Khan deny he rose to power with the army's support.

Since his removal, Mr Khan has held nationwide rallies to demand snap elections.

Pakistan's ruling coalition has refused, saying polls will be held as scheduled by the end of next year.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 8:02 AM