Pakistan PM urges parliament to act against ex-premier Khan

March 28, 2023 11:05 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed to parliament on Tuesday to act against predecessor Imran Khan over accusations that his party was involved in violence that erupted when police tried to arrest him for alleged corruption.

The clashes occurred earlier this month after Khan's supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from detaining him over allegations he unlawfully sold state gifts during his 2018-22 tenure as premier. He denies any wrongdoing.

Last week Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah asked for a parliamentary ruling to empower authorities to crack down on Khan's party and his supporters.

"Did you ever see law enforcement officers going to serve a court summons on someone and then being attacked with petrol bombs?" Sharif asked lawmakers in a speech telecast live.

"I'm appealing to this parliament that these things need to be taken care of immediately. This house has to take action today if we want to save Pakistan," he said, adding: "Enough is enough. Now law has to take its course."

Sharif did not spell out what action he wanted the parliament to take against Khan.

Some of Sharif's ministers have called for a ban on Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, but it was not clear whether the government was seeking this from parliament.

Sharif's coalition government, which took office after a parliamentary vote of no confidence ousted former cricket star Khan last year, has alleged that Khan's supporters had Islamist militants among them.

Since being removed, Khan has been demanding early elections and holding protests across the country to press his case.

The clashes between Khan's supporters and security forces have brought a new flare-up of political instability to the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, which is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis.

Khan says the government and the powerful military are trying to stop him from contesting the next election, scheduled for November. Both the government and military deny this. If convicted in any case, Khan could be disqualified from the vote.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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