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Pakistani Court Drops Terrorism Charges Against Ex-PM Imran Khan

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan (center) leaves the High Court in Islamabad on August 31.

A Pakistani court has ordered that terrorism charges be dropped against former Prime Minister Imran Khan over comments he made about law enforcement and court officials, his defense lawyer said.

The lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, said on September 19 that the high court in Islamabad concluded that Khan's actions didn't warrant a terrorism charge and thus shouldn't be tried in an anti-terrorism court.

"The case against Imran Khan, however, will remain intact [and] will now be tried in an ordinary court, instead an anti-terrorism court," Chaudhry told Reuters.

Khan was accused of threatening a female judge who had ruled against one of his close aides on sedition charges, potentially putting her life in danger.

In an emotional speech last month at a rally in Islamabad, Khan threatened Judge Zeba Chaudhry for allowing police to interrogate Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff of Khan's Tehrik-e Insaf party.

Gill had been arrested in August and charged with treason over remarks during a show on private ARY TV in which he urged soldiers and officers to disobey "illegal" orders from their superiors.

Khan was charged after he vowed to sue police officers and the judge and alleged that Gill had been tortured after his arrest.

Khan still faces indictment on a related contempt charge after a five-member court confirmed that process last week.

The 69-year-old populist and former cricketer Khan was ousted from office in April when he lost a no-confidence vote.

Since then, he has held mass rallies across Pakistan criticizing Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's government and pushing for new elections.

Sharif has rejected the demand, saying the vote should take place as scheduled in 2023.

Khan has acknowledged that he "regrets" his comments, though he stopped short of an outright apology.

He has insisted he still plans to take legal action against the officers in question.

Based on reporting by Reuters