Rangers cordon off the High Court for the arrival of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on May 12. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD:  A Pakistani court ordered former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s release on bail for two weeks, his lawyer said on Friday, after his arrest ignited deadly protests and a tussle with the military.

The arrest, which the Supreme Court ruled “invalid and unlawful” a day earlier, has fuelled instability in the nation of 220 million at a time of economic crisis, with record inflation, anaemic growth and delayed IMF funding.

Also read

Khan, wearing dark glasses and dressed in a sky blue shalwar kameez, the loose shirt and trousers popular in Pakistan, walked into the court surrounded by lawyers and security forces, the broadcaster said.

Friday's ruling by the Islamabad High Court gave Khan protection from arrest on one of several corruption cases against him for a period of two weeks, a form of interim bail that usually is renewed in the Pakistan judicial system.

Khan, however, remained in the court after the decision as his lawyers petitioned the judges for similar protection in a number of other corruption charges, trying to close off a legal avenue for the government to arrest him again.

Khan’s chief lawyer, Babar Awan, praised the ruling, and said Khan was now “a free man.”

A short while later, the court said Khan could not be arrested for the time being in other pending corruption cases against him.

“They had no justification to arrest me. I was abducted. It seems as if there was a law of jungle,” Khan told British news outlet The Independent at the Islamabad High Court.

Nearly 2,000 people have been arrested for violence since Tuesday, when Khan was detained by the anti-graft agency in a land fraud case.

At least eight have been killed as his supporters clashed with police, attacked military establishments and set other state buildings and assets ablaze, prompting the government to call in the army to help restore order.

pak 1121-1683880330288
Imran arrives for a hearing in Supreme Court on Thursday. Image Credit: AP

“The Islamabad High Court has given a two week bail and also ordered the (anti-graft body) not to arrest Imran Khan during this period,” his lawyer Faisal Chaudhry told reporters after the hearing.

Khan arrived amid tight security at the court on Friday as his supporters clashed with police elsewhere in the capital, where a police van was also set ablaze, broadcaster Geo TV reported Khan, wearing dark glasses and dressed in a sky blue shalwar kameez - the loose shirt and trousers popular in Pakistan - and a dark waistcoat, walked into the court surrounded by lawyers and security forces, TV footage showed.

He was seen in footage waving at cameras and making a victory sign with his fingers as he walked into the court.