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UN Demands Immediate Release of Imran Khan, Cites Political Motivation Behind Detention

A United Nations group has called for the immediate release of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, labeling his detention as “politically motivated.” The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reviewed Khan’s case in March 2023 and concluded that his prosecution in the Toshakhana corruption case and the cipher case aimed to remove him from the political scene.

The UN body found no legal basis for Khan’s detention and criticized the judicial process, noting irregularities in the court proceedings. Khan was convicted by an Islamabad trial court in August 2023, sentenced to three years in prison, and subsequently disqualified from politics by the Election Commission of Pakistan. His conviction was later suspended by the Islamabad High Court.

The group highlighted the context of political repression against Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, suggesting the prosecution served political purposes. They pointed out concerns about how Khan was convicted and arrested, emphasizing the unlawful nature of these actions.

In the cipher case, the UN group stated that Khan’s actions did not violate the Official Secrets Act, as per intelligence services’ corroboration. They observed the timing of Khan’s prosecutions, suggesting they were intended to prevent him from contesting the general election initially scheduled for November 2023.

The group concluded that the factors in Khan’s case appeared to aim at excluding him and his party from the electoral process. Without any government rebuttal, they found the prosecutions to be politically motivated.

The UN group also noted that Khan’s detention was related to his leadership of the PTI and his exercise of freedom of assembly. They urged the Pakistani government to release Khan immediately and ensure his right to compensation and reparations.

In response, the PTI has termed the UN group’s opinion as a significant development, highlighting international support for Khan’s release and condemnation of his detention.

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