Imran Khan: Pakistan ex-PM given three-year jail sentenceon August 5, 2023 at 1:06 pm

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The ousted prime minister was given a three-year jail sentence in a case of corruption he denies.

Imran KhanImage source, Reuters

Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for nationwide protests after he was handed a three-year jail sentence over corruption allegations.

Mr Khan was found guilty of not declaring money earned from selling gifts he received in office. He denies the charges and says he will appeal.

After the verdict, Mr Khan was taken into custody from his home in Lahore.

In a pre-recorded statement posted after the verdict, he urged supporters to fight against the ruling.

“I have only one appeal, don’t sit at home silently,” he said in a video address posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “I am struggling for you and the country and your children’s future,” he added.

The former cricketer-turned-politician, 70, was elected in 2018, but was ousted in a no-confidence vote last year after falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military.

Mr Khan is facing more than 100 cases brought against him since his removal – charges he says are politically motivated.

Saturday’s verdict centred on charges that he incorrectly declared details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale.

The gifts – reported to be worth more than 140m Pakistani rupees ($635,000; £500,000) – included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.

“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” Judge Humayun Dilawar wrote in his ruling. Outside the courthouse, some pro-government demonstrators chanted “your show is over Khan”.

Judge Dilawar said police had been instructed to arrest Mr Khan immediately. Within 15 minutes of the verdict, footage began to circulate on social media showing a line of police cars and trucks taking him away.

Imran Khan’s lawyer, Intazar Hussain Panjutha, told the BBC the trial had been conducted by “a kangaroo-type court” in which “the accused was never given the opportunity to defend himself”.

Police officers lined up outside Mr Khan's home

“As a consequence of today’s conviction, he has been barred to take part in the politics for five years,” Mr Panjutha said.

“But if the sentence and the conviction is suspended as we are hoping by the superior courts, he will then be able to come back to politics.”

Mr Khan will be sent to Adyala jail, a central prison in the city of Rawalpindi, south of Islamabad.

For months he had avoided arrest, with his supporters at times fighting pitched battles with police to keep him out of custody.

In May, Mr Khan was arrested for not appearing at court as requested. He was then released, with the arrest declared illegal.

When he was last arrested on 9 May, there were protests across Pakistan.

Since then, Mr Khan and his political party have faced a dramatic crackdown, with many of his senior leadership arrested, before announcing they were leaving the party.

Thousands of his supporters arrested were alleged to have been involved in the protests. Some will face trial in military courts, despite an outcry from many in human rights groups.

When questioned by BBC HARDTalk as to whether he had created an atmosphere of hostility to the military resulting in violence, Mr Khan said he and his party had never advocated the use of violence and had a record of peaceful protest.

Mr Khan said the army in Pakistan was “petrified” of elections which his party would win “hands down” and, for that reason, “they’re dismantling a democracy”.

Pakistan’s army plays a prominent role in politics, sometimes seizing power in military coups and, on other occasions, pulling levers behind the scenes.

Many analysts believe Mr Khan’s election win in 2018 happened with the help of the military.

In opposition, he has been one of its most vocal critics, and analysts say the army’s popularity has fallen.

Since being ousted, Mr Khan has been campaigning for early elections.

Conviction would disqualify Mr Khan from standing for office, possibly for life.

Pakistan’s parliament will be dissolved on August 9, leaving a caretaker government to take over in the run up to the elections.

No election date has been announced, although constitutionally they should take place by early November.

However, on Saturday the country’s law minister said the new elections would have to take place after the results of a new census were implemented.

Azam Nazeer Tarar told Geo News TV that it could take about four months to produce new constituency boundaries based from the count, potentially delaying the election by several months.

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