South Asia

Pakistan’s Imran Khan denies ‘abetting’ lawyer’s drive-by murder

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. File photo.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan denied on Wednesday in Lahore his alleged involvement after police formally named him in connection with the murder by unknown gunmen of a lawyer seeking sedition proceedings against him.

Police registered an “abetment to murder” case against former cricket hero Khan, 70, who faces dozens of charges since his ouster in a parliamentary vote of confidence in April last year.

Khan, who has not been charged in connection with the lawyer’s murder, has dismissed all the cases against him as concocted by his opponents.

In a live online broadcast, Khan denied the allegations.

“I need to head to Islamabad tomorrow (Thursday), seeking bail for 16 cases. Has this ever happened to any other political leader?”

“This man, the lawyer was murdered. The family says he was murdered because of a family feud. He was killed at around 9:30, and within 4 hours of the murder, the law minister holds a press conference to say that Imran Khan was behind it. Within 4 hours, just think! When a murder happens, one would expect a thorough investigation. In 4 hours they conclude that Imran Khan has abetted the murder,” Khan said.

Provincial government spokesman Babar Khan said Khan could face formal charges if and when the murder case goes to trial.

Abdur Razaq, the murdered lawyer, had filed a court petition seeking sedition proceedings against Khan for dissolving his government after the no-confidence motion.

Razaq was on his way to court on Tuesday when gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed him, police said.

Razaq’s son, Siraj Ahmad, also a lawyer, told police that his father had been killed by unknown men with the “abetment of the former prime minister”, according to a police report filed by him and seen by Reuters.

It was not immediately clear how the link between unknown gunmen and Khan was made.

Last week, Khan was released on bail on terrorism charges of abetting violence against the military by his protesting supporters after he was arrested and detained on May 9in a corruption case.

The embattled Khan is embroiled in a confrontation with the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan directly or overseen civilian governments throughout its history.

His May 9 arrest sparked widespread protests by his supporters who ransacked military facilities, raising new worries about the stability of the nuclear-armed South Asian nation as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.