An appeals court in Pakistan ordered former Prime Minister Imran Khan released from custody on Tuesday, the latest twist in a political showdown between Mr. Khan and leaders of the powerful military establishment who appear intent on sidelining him from politics.
Mr. Khan had been arrested earlier this month after a trial court sentenced him to three years in prison in a corruption case — a sentence that the Islamabad High Court suspended on Tuesday after an appeal by Mr. Khan’s legal team.
The court’s decision offered what could be a temporary reprieve for Mr. Khan, a former cricket star turned populist politician who has been fighting to make a political comeback since he was ousted from power last year.
Still, the possibility that Mr. Khan could be rearrested looms over him. He faces dozens of court cases, part of what he and his allies have characterized as a coordinated effort by the military to keep him out of politics.
The announcement highlighted the turbulent state of Pakistani politics, which has been consumed by the yearlong showdown between military leaders and Mr. Khan, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence last year.
For a time, Mr. Khan had managed a political rebound, drawing thousands to rallies where he accused military generals of orchestrating his ouster.
But in recent months, the political winds seemed to shift, as the military embarked on a sweeping campaign to hollow out Mr. Khan’s political party. Media columnists sympathetic to him were intimidated, supporters who protested against the military were jailed, and party leaders defected in droves after they said they were threatened with criminal charges.
The campaign sent a clear message: Any challenge to the military’s ultimate control over Pakistan’s politics would not be tolerated.
Then, earlier this month, after a trial court sentenced Mr. Khan to three years in prison in a corruption case, the country’s election commission disqualified him from running for office for five years.
Salman Masood contributed reporting.