Jailed Former Prime Minister Imran Khan Appears Before Pakistan's Supreme Court via Video Link - Latest Global News

Jailed Former Prime Minister Imran Khan Appears Before Pakistan’s Supreme Court via Video Link

The 71-year-old leader’s court appearance was neither livestreamed on the court’s website nor broadcast on news channels.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan has appeared virtually before the Supreme Court via videolink from prison in connection with a case over changes to the country’s anti-corruption law.

Thursday’s hearing was the first time Khan, who has been detained on multiple charges since August 2023, appeared before the top court.

However, the 71-year-old leader’s court appearance was neither livestreamed on the Supreme Court’s website nor broadcast on the country’s news channels.

Al Jazeera reached out to Information Minister Attaullah Tarar for comment on why the hearing was not broadcast on news channels or the Supreme Court’s website, but did not receive a response.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) accused Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of collusion with the government for not allowing the hearing to be broadcast to the people.

“Our party believes that the chief justice of the country is in agreement with the security establishment and their aim is to harm PTI in every possible way,” Aamir Mughal of the main opposition party told Al Jazeera. In Pakistan, “establishment” is a euphemism for its powerful army, which has ruled the country directly for almost three decades and wields immense political power.

Shortly after Khan lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022, the government that succeeded him amended the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) of 1999 and curtailed the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s main anti-corruption agency.

The amendments barred NAB from investigating a case unless the transaction value was more than 500 million rupees ($6 million) or the number of “affected persons” in a case exceeded 100. It also said that the trial of an accused must be completed in a year and that the authority must present evidence against a person before making an arrest.

The changes in the law resulted in at least 22 corruption cases being withdrawn from the NAB courts. The cases involved current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, among others.

In July 2022, Khan filed a petition with the Supreme Court accusing the government of using the changes to protect “influential people” and legitimizing corruption and asking the court to overturn the changes.

The top court on Thursday adjourned its hearing on the matter. Khan did not comment during his video appearance.

Khan’s appearance in the top court came a day after he was granted leave to appeal by two other courts. The Islamabad High Court granted him bail in a high-profile land deal case, while another court in the capital acquitted him in a 2022 case related to a protest march.

However, Khan remains in prison due to his conviction in two other cases related to leaking state secrets and unlawful marriage. In another case related to the illegal sale of government gifts, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but the sentence was overturned by the Islamabad High Court in April this year.

In the land deal case, Khan was briefly arrested on May 9 last year, sparking nationwide protests by the PTI and leading to an unprecedented government crackdown on the party, which included Khan’s detention in several cases in August.

PTI politician Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari told Al Jazeera he was confident Khan would “soon be a free man”.

“We have always maintained that when these cases go to higher courts, Khan will not only be granted bail but he will also win them as they are all baseless and have no factual basis,” he said.

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