Pakistan’s government has restricted former Prime Minister Imran Khan, his wife and hundreds of political aides from travelling abroad amid a standoff with the country’s powerful military, officials said.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), responsible for immigration and border control, put Khan’s name on the no-fly list, at least two officials confirmed to dpa news agency on Friday.
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Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, and more than 500 leaders and members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have also been added to the list, officials said.
“It is a standard practice in every case. All those who face court cases are barred from leaving the country,” one of the officials told dpa.
Khan on Friday “thanked” the government for putting him on the no-fly list.
“I have no plans to travel abroad, because I neither have any properties or businesses abroad nor even a bank account outside the country,” he tweeted in an apparent dig at politicians belonging to Pakistan’s ruling alliance who allegedly own homes abroad.
I want to thank the government for putting my name on the ECL as I have no plans to travel abroad, because I neither have any properties or businesses abroad nor even a bank account outside the country.
If and when I do get an opportunity for a holiday, it will be in our…
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 26, 2023
Khan’s government, between 2018 and 2022, also barred several opposition leaders from flying abroad.
Later on Friday, Khan appealed for immediate talks with state officials.
“I would like to appeal for talks, because what is currently happening is not a solution,” Khan said in a live talk streamed on YouTube, warning that the country was headed towards anarchy.
The move against Khan comes as legal challenges mount for the 70-year-old former cricket star, weeks after his supporters stormed key military installations including the army headquarters in protests against his arrest on May 9.
Dozens of former PTI legislators have distanced themselves from Khan since and more than 4,000 of his supporters – including PTI leaders and journalists – have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown.
The government said those who attacked the military installation would face summary trials at the country’s controversial military courts, a move criticised by national and global rights groups.
An anti-terrorism court in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday handed 16 civilians to the military for trial over their suspected involvement in the violent protests this month.
Several government ministers said a proposal was being considered to ban Khan’s party, a move likely to deepen the political chaos in a country facing an imminent economic default and threats from armed groups.
Since being removed from power in April last year, Khan has been campaigning for snap general elections, which are due by October this year.