UN chief Guterres calls for ‘positive change’ in ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s situation
Imran Khan has been in jail since last August and was convicted in some cases ahead of the national election in February

at 12:20 am
Imran Khan
File pic of Imran Khan

Islamabad, July 3: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for improvement in the current situation of incarcerated PTI founder Imran Khan, two days after a UN rights group termed the former Pakistani prime minister’s detention as “violation of international law”.

“We (UN Secretary-General) want to see the current political situation, the current situation of Mr (Imran) Khan, evolve in a much more positive way,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN chief, stated responding to a question during a daily press briefing. “It’s a recommendation from an independent panel,” Dujarric added.

He was answering the question: “The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued unanimously a recommendation to release Imran Khan, the former Pakistani prime minister, with no conditions. Does the SG support this recommendation?”

Imran Khan has been in jail since last August and was convicted in some cases ahead of the national election in February. Khan’s party claims the charges were politically motivated to thwart his return to power.

Imran is serving out his sentence in the Iddat case at Adiala Jail. His sentences in two Toshakhana cases against him were suspended while the Islamabad High Court acquitted him in the cipher case.

Earlier, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention — which has the mandate to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty by governments — had said the cases against Imran Khan were “without legal basis” and politically motivated to exclude him from the political arena.

The panel said that the appropriate remedy would be to release and compensate the former prime minister.

This was the second disapproval at the international level of the government’s action against PTI and its incarcerated founder. This comes within a week of the US House of Representatives passing a resolution calling on Pakistan to thoroughly probe the allegation of irregularities in the February 8 elections.

The Geneva-based UN group on arbitrary detention said on Monday: “An appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Khan immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”

It stated that Khan’s legal troubles were part of a “much larger campaign of repression” against him and his party [PTI]. It claimed that in the lead-up to the 2024 elections, members of Khan’s party were arrested and tortured, and their rallies were disrupted. It also alleged “widespread fraud on election day, stealing dozens of parliamentary seats.”

However, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Tuesday snubbed the UN report, calling Khan’s arrest and cases against him an “internal matter” of Pakistan.

He added that courts took legal action against the PTI founder in light of the Constitution and prevailing laws.

“The PTI founder is entitled to all rights under the Constitution and laws, as well as international principles,” Tarar had said, adding that the ex-premier was currently in jail as a convicted prisoner.