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United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Calls for Release of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

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The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, based in Geneva, has issued a compelling opinion. It states that former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been unjustly imprisoned, a clear violation of international law. The opinion, dated March 25, calls for the immediate release of Mr. Khan and the granting of an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.

According to the working group, Mr. Khan’s detention was found to have no legal basis and was clearly intended to disqualify him from running for political office. The group’s opinion further emphasized that the prosecution against him was not grounded in law and was clearly instrumentalized for a political purpose, underlining the urgency of the situation.

This opinion comes amid a series of relentless legal challenges faced by Mr. Khan since his removal as prime minister in April 2022. He has been entangled in over 200 legal cases and has been imprisoned since August of the same year. Mr. Khan has consistently maintained that these cases are politically motivated and orchestrated by his adversaries to prevent his return to power.

The working group also highlighted a larger campaign of repression against Mr. Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, alleging arrests, torture of party members, disruptions of rallies, and widespread fraud during elections. The group consists of five independent experts, and while their opinions are not legally binding, they carry significant reputational weight.

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The Pakistani government has not yet commented on the opinion. The country’s election commission has denied allegations of election fraud during the February elections. The upcoming 2024 general elections in Pakistan further add to the political significance of the UN working group’s opinion.

Despite facing legal challenges, Mr. Khan and his party have continued to assert their stance against the powerful Establishment, which is blamed to be behind the slew of cases according to PTI sources. The Establishment, which has ruled directly for decades and wields immense power, allegedly had a role in Mr. Khan’s ousting by a parliamentary no-confidence vote as per PTI claims. Mr. Khan had publicly accused top army officers of conspiring in an assassination attempt in 2022, further straining his relationship with the military.

As the situation unfolds, Mr. Khan’s supporters stand by him, advocating for his release and demanding fair treatment within the legal system. The UN working group’s opinion adds weight to the ongoing political and legal battle as Mr. Khan and his party continue to navigate the complex landscape of Pakistani politics.

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