Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan was on Tuesday granted bail on a new charge of abetting violence against the military by his protesting supporters after he was arrested and detained on May 9 in a corruption case, his lawyer said.
The embattled Khan, who says the corruption charges have been concocted, is embroiled in a confrontation with the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan directly or overseen civilian governments throughout its history.
His May 9 arrest sparked widespread protests by his supporters who ransacked various military facilities, raising new worries about the stability of the nuclear-armed country as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.
Khan, 70, was later freed on the orders of a court.
His lawyer, Intezar Hussain Punjotha, said an anti-terrorism court confirmed the bail on the new charge after the former premier appeared before it and submitted surety bonds.
Khan has denied the charge saying he was in detention when the violence took place. The bail until June 2 on the new charge means he will not be detained on that charge.
The former international cricket star became prime minister in 2018 with the tacit support of the military, though both sides denied it at the time.
He later fell out with generals and was ousted as prime minister after losing a confidence vote in 2022.
Khan has since then been campaigning for a snap election, with rallies with his supporters across the country, but the prime minister who replaced him, Shahbaz Sharif, has rejected the call for an election before it is due late this year.
The turmoil has exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis with inflation at record highs, growth is anemic amid fears of a sovereign default on external debts unless the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unlocks delayed disbursements.
Dozens of Khan’s supporters have been handed over to army authorities for trial in military courts.
A team of investigators looking into the May 9 violence summoned Khan on Tuesday for questioning but Punjotha said a member of his legal team would go instead.
Khan has appealed for talks to end the crisis. The government has rejected his call.