Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan apologizes to avoid contempt charges

ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan apologized Thursday for an attack on a female judge during a demonstration last month in court, which was seen as a threat to the judiciary and judges in general.
A pardon, an option under Pakistan’s legal system, could allow Khan to stay out of jail and avoid contempt charges. Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, has campaigned for early elections and claims he was ousted by a US conspiracy.
The development comes just days after a judge ordered Pakistani police to drop terrorism charges against Khan in a separate case following threats against the same judge as well as police.
The legal cases followed a speech by Khan in the capital, Islamabad, in which he vowed to file a case against Islamabad’s police chief and a judge for allowing police to question Shahbaz Gill, the chief of staff of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf political party. .
Khan made the controversial remarks after being told that Gill was allegedly tortured by the police following his arrest on charges of inciting troops to mutiny.
At one point during the August rally, Khan directed his comments at the judge Zeba Chaudhrysaying, “You also prepare for this, we will take action against you as well.”
A former cricket star-turned-politician who became prime minister in 2018, Khan is currently out on bail, which protects him from arrest in several cases.
“I am ready to apologise… if the court thinks I have crossed the line,” Khan said while appearing before the Islamabad High Court on Thursday.
“I assure the court that this will not happen again in the future,” he added.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah said Khan’s gesture was appreciated but the former prime minister must issue a written apology before October 3, after which Minallah will review the text and decide whether to drop the contempt case.
Khan’s lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, who is not related to Judge Chaudhry, later told reporters that Khan’s apology would be submitted in writing to the court soon.
Dozens of Khan’s supporters had gathered outside the courthouse to cheer him on, and hundreds of police were deployed on Thursday to prevent violence and disperse crowds.
Since his impeachment, Khan has claimed — without providing evidence — that Pakistan’s powerful military was involved in an alleged US plot to impeach him. Washington and the government of Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, have denied the charge. Sharif has also rejected Khan’s demand, saying elections next year will be held on time.
In recent weeks, authorities have filed several lawsuits against Khan, including one in defiance of a ban on demonstrations.