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Unfazed and surprisingly alert: Imran Khan warns of threats to Pakistan’s democracy

Imran Khan was very uncertain he’d make it out of the High Court on Friday night, even after he’d been bailed for two weeks.

His camp had heard rumours that he was about to be rearrested on another charge.

But he eventually did manage to get on the road, driving through the early hours of the morning to get back to Lahore.

We were making the same journey, the road littered with his supporters, some who stayed up ’til gone 3am to greet him. After days of witnessing rocks being thrown, tear gas fired, it felt like an incongruously upbeat moment.


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

We suddenly got a call from Mr Khan’s security team telling us he’d agreed to our interview request.

Minutes later, we were ushered through metal gates and down a long path. After multiple security checks, we sat outside expecting we’d soon be inside.

More on Imran Khan

But, Pakistan’s former 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 slimmed down team doing it because much of the PTI leadership have also been arrested.

Hours pass and we hear he is now about to address the nation. He is a highly effective communicator and appears hyper focused on deciding when and how to craft his message.

Minutes after he finishes his speech, we’re invited in. We’re told we can set-up our cameras in the room where he’d just spoken.

It’s made for TV – complete with broadcast lights – a relief to my cameraman Duncan Sharp who manages to rapidly set up for the interview.

Mr Khan appears chipper when we meet him – seemingly unfazed by the lack of sleep and looking surprisingly alert given he’d spent the week in detention and facing huge legal jeopardy.

Imran Khan

Read more:
‘He thinks he’s untouchable’ – Pakistan minister defends Imran Khan arrest
Imran Khan’s journey from playboy to prime minister

Democracy he tells me is at an “all-time low”, the establishment are targeting him because they’re “petrified” of elections and the military orchestrated his “abduction”.

But there’s also a subtle shift in his tone. He doesn’t repeat the allegation that the army chief plotted to assassinate him, something he did just days before his arrest by Pakistani paramilitary.

I wonder if a deal has been done, some kind of compromise. What he wants above all else of course is an early election. But that is still up in the air and the threat of re-arrest is still very real.

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan leaves 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 is free for now – well, until 17 May at least. He wants to get back to campaigning this week.

His challenge will be finding a way to inspire, and not incite – all while making sure his opponents don’t lock him up again.


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