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A court in Pakistan has deferred contempt proceedings against former Prime Minister Imran Khan after he said he was willing to apologise for his remarks against a female judge.

“If the court wants, I will go to the lady judge and apologise to her. I will never say anything that will hurt the feelings of the court or judiciary,” Khan told the Islamabad High Court during a hearing on Thursday.

“I assure the court I will not do something like this in future,” he said. “I am sorry if I crossed a red line.” Khan was charged with contempt of court following a speech he made at a public rally in capital Islamabad on August 20, where he threatened “action” against Judge Zeba Chaudhry and senior Islamabad police officials for arresting his top aide Shahbaz Gill.

Following remarks made during a TV show, Gill was charged with attempting to incite a mutiny in Pakistan’s powerful military, an allegation Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party denies.

If convicted, Khan risked being disqualified from holding a public post for at least five years, according to Pakistan’s laws.

Following Khan’s apology, the court decided to not indict the cricketing icon-turned-politician, asking him to submit his statement in an affidavit before the next hearing on October 3.

Earlier this week, the same court also dropped terrorism charges against the 69-year-old politician for his remarks during the Islamabad rally.

The former Pakistani leader is also facing a case related to alleged foreign funding for his PTI party. The next hearing in the case is on November 6.

Khan’s government was removed through a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April this year. Since then, he has been holding public rallies across the country, demanding new elections, which are otherwise due late next year.

“Today, he (Khan) was far more contrite in person compared to his submitted replies, which seemed to have satisfied the bench,” lawyer Munir A Malik, an amicus curiae (court assistant) in the contempt case, told Al Jazeera.

Lahore-based political analyst Mehmal Sarfraz says Khan had no option but to apologise in the contempt case.

“He knew that he must tender an unconditional apology. The court even gave him a couple of opportunities earlier, but his replies failed to satisfy the court,” she told Al Jazeera.

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23/09/2022
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