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.
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.
Between 2018 and 2022, Khan’s government also barred several opposition leaders from flying abroad.
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.
On Thursday, an anti-terrorism court in the eastern city of Lahore handed 16 civilians to the military for trial over their suspected involvement in the violent protests this month.
Also on Thursday, Khan approached the Supreme Court against the deployment of armed forces in parts of the country, calling it an “undeclared martial law” and requesting the top court to term the move unconstitutional.
The army was deployed in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the capital, Islamabad, over the May 9 violence.
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, due by October this year.