Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan rejected claims that he was trying to flee the country and said he had no plan to travel abroad even on a vacation.

Mr Khan addressed the speculations directly on Twitter on Friday after widespread rumours that the embattled politician could leave the country, which has a history of politicians absconding abroad after being convicted at home.

Mr Khan, leader of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was added to the no-fly list by the federal government along with his wife Bushra Bibi and dozens of party members.

“I want to thank the government for putting my name on the ECL (Exit Control List) 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,” Mr Khan tweeted.

“If and when I do get an opportunity for a holiday, it will be in our northern mountains, my favourite place on earth.”

Attaullah Tarar, the special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on interior and legal affairs,  confirmed to the Tribune Express that Mr Khan and his top aides as well as other PTI leaders had been added to the no-fly list.

The actions came amid speculations that Mr Khan is seeking asylum in the US or he could flee to some other country to avoid his arrest in cases ranging from corruption and terrorism to blasphemy.

Pakistani security officials stand guard outside the Lahore high court where Imran Khan appeared for bail on 19 May


During his term as prime minister, Mr Khan had sought the extradition of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who left for London after Pakistani authorities released him on bail in November 2019 on grounds of his deteriorating health.

Mr Shairf, the brother of current prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, was sentenced to seven years in prison in Pakistan for corruption and money laundering charges.

Similarly, Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, fled to the United Arab Emirates after he was handed the death penalty following a guilty verdict for treason in 2014.

Musharraf, who died earlier this year in February, served as chief of the powerful military in Pakistan in 1998 and later served as president between 2001 and 2008.

Mr Khan is holed up in his highly fortified residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park in what party members said were attempts to isolate the popular leader from the rest of the world.

At least 33 people suspected of attacking army installations during protests that followed the arrest of Mr Khan earlier this month were handed over to the military for trials, interior minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday.

“The accused who are being handed over to the military are those who trespassed and entered very sensitive defense installations, so the question is that how did they manage to get there,” Mr Sanaullah told reporters.

Pakistan remained in the throes of political and economic turmoil as the ruling government decided to crack down on Mr Khan and his party, as they demanded snap elections since the sudden ouster of the cricketer-turned-politician through a no-confidence vote.

Mr Khan was arrested on 9 May on charges of corruption, sparking nationwide violent protests.

The domestic turmoil has futher deepened Pakistan’s worst economic crisis in decades, with record high inflation, anaemic growth and IMF funding delayed for months, prompting concerns that the country could default on its external payment obligations.

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