Unfazed and surprisingly alert: Imran Khan warns of threats to Pakistani democracy after bail | world news

Imran Khan was very uncertain whether he would be able to walk out of the High Court on Friday evening, even after being released on bail for two weeks.

His camp had heard rumors that he was about to be arrested again on another charge.

But he finally managed to get back on the road, driving until the wee hours of the morning to get back to Lahore.

We were doing the same route, the road littered with his supporters, some of whom stayed up until 3 a.m. to greet him. After witnessing days of rock-throwing and tear gas being fired, this felt like an incongruous and optimistic moment.

Come morning, his slightly cloudy-eyed fans were gathered outside his enclosure. Some have set up camp there, selling food and flags.

We suddenly received a call from Mr. Khan’s security team telling us that he accepted our interview request.

A few minutes later we were ushered through metal doors and down a long path. After several security checks we sat outside hoping we would be inside soon.

But the former Pakistani prime minister was busy holding meetings with his team.

They of course have a lot to discuss and no doubt a strategy to coordinate. And it’s a small team that does it because a large part of the PTI leadership has also been arrested.

Hours pass and we learn that he is about to address the nation. He is a very effective communicator and seems hyper-focused on when and how to craft his message.

A few minutes after he finished his speech, we were invited to enter. We are told that we can set up our cameras in the room where he just spoke.

It’s made for TV – with broadcast lights – a relief for my cameraman Duncan Sharp who manages to get ready for the interview quickly.

Mr Khan looks shredded when we meet him – seemingly unfazed by lack of sleep and surprisingly alert given he has spent the week in custody and faces huge legal risks.

Imran Khan

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Democracy, he tells me, is at rock bottom, the establishment targets him because he is “petrified” by the elections and the military orchestrated his “kidnapping.”

But there is also a subtle shift in its tone. He does not repeat the allegation that the army chief plotted to assassinate him, which he did days before his arrest by Pakistani paramilitaries.

I wonder if an agreement has been reached, some kind of compromise. What he wants above all, of course, is an early election. But it’s still in the air and the threat of a new arrest is still very real.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan walks out of court after being released on bail for two weeks
Imran Khan leaves court after being released on bail for two weeks

Mr. Khan faces more than 100 charges against him. He’s free for now – well, until at least May 17th. He wants to resume campaigning this week.

His challenge will be to find a way to inspire, not incite, while ensuring his opponents don’t lock him in again.


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