Pakistan releases an Imran Khan associate while authorities seek to prosecute thousands of his supporters

Imran Khan supporters

A Pakistan court allowed the freedom of an associate of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday. Despite authorities’ efforts to charge thousands of Imran Khan supporters involved in recent anti-government rioting.

Shireen Mazari, who served as Khan’s rights minister from 2018 to 2022, was detained last Thursday in Islamabad on charges of inciting people to violence.

She has been a strong critic of Pakistan’s military and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif‘s government. Which took over after Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022.

Imaan Mazari, Mazari’s daughter, had petitioned the Supreme Court. Claiming that her mother’s arrest was illegal. She said that the Lahore High Court ordered her mother’s release on Monday. But she was still detained in Rawalpindi.

It was unknown when Shireen Mazari was allowed to walk free. She was also arrested previously in May and eventually released by an Islamabad high court. And she has other legal proceedings ongoing against her.

The revelation is the latest in the political drama that has enveloped Pakistan in the aftermath of Khan’s detention. Which sparked days of rallies and violence unprecedented in recent years. During skirmishes with police, ten of Imran Khan supporters were slain.

May 9 violence

Following the popular opposition leader, supporters attacked security forces and set fire to government and military property. Troops were sent in to quell the unrest. Which ended only after Khan was released.

Khan has subsequently toned down his anti-government campaign. Condemning the violence and asking for an independent investigation to uncover who was to blame.

Meanwhile, Sharif’s government has arrested over 4,000 followers of Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf opposition party in the last two weeks. It has also promised to pursue all individuals responsible for the attacks on military and public property.

On Sunday, Sharif stated that those involved in the attacks on military sites would be tried in military courts.

Khan, a former cricketer turned Islamist politician, has alleged that his removal was the result of a plot by the US and Sharif. Assisted by Pakistan’s military – charges that all three have denied.

Khan claims he is currently facing around 150 legal proceedings against him. And fears being arrested again on Tuesday when he is scheduled to appear before the National Accountability Authority in Islamabad to answer questions about a graft case.

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