UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an improvement in the situation of incarcerated ex-prime

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an improvement in the situation of incarcerated ex-prime minister Imran Khan, the former’s spokesperson said on Tuesday, just two days after one of the international body’s groups termed the cricketer-turned-politician’s detention as arbitrary.

“We [the UN Secretary-General] want to see the current political situation, the current situation of Mr [Imran] Khan, evolve in a much more positive way,” Stephane Dujarric, a representative for the UN chief, stated responding to a question raised during a daily press briefing. It’s a recommendation from an independent panel, Dujarric added.

Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder, has been in jail since last August and was convicted in some cases ahead of a national election in February. Neck-deep in a myriad of other ongoing legal cases, Khan’s party claims the charges were politically motivated to thwart his return to power.

The question was: “The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued unanimously a recommendation to release Imran Khan, the former Pakistani prime minister, with no conditions. Does the SG support this recommendation?”

In recent months, courts have suspended Khan’s jail sentences in two cases involving the illegal acquisition and sale of state gifts and overturned his conviction on charges of leaking state secrets.

The UNWGAD stated in an opinion issued on Monday that Imran Khan’s detention was arbitrary and in violation of international law, adding that the jailed politician should be released immediately.

The Geneva-based UN group on arbitrary detention said: “An appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Khan immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”

It further stated that Khan’s legal troubles were part of a “much larger campaign of repression” against him and his party [PTI]. It claimed that in the lead-up to the 2024 elections, members of Khan’s party were arrested and tortured, and their rallies were disrupted. It also alleged “widespread fraud on election day, stealing dozens of parliamentary seats.”

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Tuesday snubbed the UN report, calling Khan’s arrest and cases against him an “internal matter” of Pakistan.

“The PTI founder has all the rights according to the country’s constitution and law and international standards,” said the law minister in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Tarar said that the former prime minister was in jail as a convicted prisoner, adding that as an independent state, the constitution and existing laws are enforced by the courts in Pakistan.

Imran Khan, the deposed prime minister who was ousted from power via the opposition’s no-confidence motion in April 2022, has been facing a slew of charges ranging from corruption to terrorism since his removal as the premier.

He has been behind bars since August last year after he was sentenced in the Toshakhana case and subsequently sentenced in other cases ahead of the February 8 elections.

Despite securing relief in other cases including £190 million reference and Toshakhana, and acquittal in the cipher case earlier this month, the former premier remains behind bars due to his conviction in the iddat case.

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