Imran Khan Faces Probe into Sexual Harassment


Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly on Friday decided to form a special committee to probe sexual harassment allegations against flamboyant Opposition leader Imran Khan by a prominent woman lawmaker of his party.

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, soon after the swearing-in of his Cabinet, called for the formation of a special committee to investigate the allegations of harassment levelled against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former Pakistan cricket team captain Khan by the Member of the National Assembly, Ayesha Gulalai.

Ms. Gulalai has alleged that Mr. Khan had hinted towards tying the knot in the texts sent to her, which also included inappropriate messages.

Mr. Abbasi, in his address to lawmakers, called for the formation of a special committee to probe the allegations against Mr. Khan in-camera and suggested that the committee present a report before the House after its investigation so that the “matter can be closed”.

“Both the PTI chief and Gulalai are respectable personalities; therefore, a committee should be formed to probe the allegations, Abbasi told the assembly.

The assembly then passed the motion and directed the committee to submit its report within a month, Dawn newspaper reported.

The prime minister assured both the accused and the accuser they would be respected, adding that the PTI chief had the “right to defend himself”.

Abbasi also promised round-the-clock protection for Ms. Gulalai after she claimed on television that she was scared for her life.

While announcing her resignation from the party earlier this week, Ms. Gulalai had accused Mr. Khan, 64, and his “gang” of having an “immoral character”.

The lawmaker from Waziristan alleged that Mr. Khan “would forward inappropriate and explicit text messages to party women”, claiming that she received the first such message in 2013.

Ms. Gulalai’s allegations against Mr. Khan has caused a furore among party members and deepened an existing rift with the ruling PML-N, with PTI accusing them of allegedly masterminding a ploy to malign the party chief, who had initiated the corruption case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif under the Pananma Papers leaks. Mr. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the case.

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