The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was released on Friday after the high court in Islamabad granted protection from arrest in the multiple cases against him, the Associated Press reported.
The high court ruling was a blow to the Pakistani government in a stand-off that resulted in rioting by Khan’s supporters.
After returning to his home in Lahore, Khan released a video statement accusing the Islamabad police of trying to prevent him from leaving the courthouse. He said he was only permitted to travel after he threatened to reveal to the public that he was being detained against his will.
When the former prime minister arrived in Lahore in eastern Pakistan early Saturday, he was greeted by thousands of his supporters who showered his car with rose petals while dancing in the streets.
In a measure called “anticipatory bail,” the Islamabad High Court granted Khan protection for two weeks on one graft charge as well as protection until Monday on multiple other charges. The protections can be extended, however, it was not clear on Friday if that meant the high court would hold another hearing on Monday.
While the 70-year-old Khan has wide support throughout the country, opponents accuse him of being a corrupt demagogue who incites his followers into violence. Khan was removed from office in April 2022 after a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
When asked by reporters in the courthouse last Friday if he could still be arrested despite the high court’s rulings, Khan asked who would control his supporters if he is arrested again. Khan claimed not to be aware of the riots that occurred after his arrest until last Thursday.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said in an interview with GEO television that the government would respect the high court’s rulings. He would not say if the government would attempt to arrest the former prime minister in the coming days, but any involved in rioting will “not be spared” from prosecution.