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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Jail most likely is not the tip of the political highway for Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD — Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s well-liked opposition chief, is now an inmate at a high-security jail after being convicted of corruption and sentenced to 3 years.

It is essentially the most dramatic twist but in months of political and authorized wrangling between Khan and his political rivals since he was toppled in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022.

Khan’s occasion mentioned it’ll attraction what authorities critics describe as a flimsy case, aimed toward eradicating the previous cricket star from politics forward of a basic election meant to be held this fall. The federal government defended the conviction as lawful and denied that Khan is a sufferer of political persecution.

If the conviction stands, the 70-year-old Khan could be prohibited by regulation from operating for workplace or main Pakistan Tehreek e-Insaf, the occasion he based within the Nineties. Nevertheless, polls point out a robust election displaying for PTI, and Khan’s imprisonment may additional increase its standing.

WHAT WAS THE CASE AGAINST HIM?

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An Islamabad court docket dominated Saturday that Khan did not report earnings from items he obtained from international dignitaries and heads of state whereas he was in energy. In Pakistan, authorities leaders are allowed to maintain such items after leaving energy, in trade for paying a portion of the worth for them.

The court docket mentioned Khan offered a few of these items and did not state these earnings in a report final 12 months to Pakistan’s election fee. The court docket convicted Khan of corruption, handed down a three-year sentence and fined him 100,000 rupees, or roughly $350.

Shortly after the decision, Khan was detained at his dwelling within the jap metropolis of Lahore and brought to a high-security lockup within the city of Attock, about an hour’s drive from the capital of Islamabad.

WHAT OTHER CASES ARE PENDING AGAINST KHAN?

Since Khan’s ouster, greater than 150 {cases} have been filed towards him by varied authorities companies on fees starting from contempt of court docket to terrorism and inciting violence.

Critics say this flurry of authorized filings is a part of an try by the governing coalition to sideline Khan, who as opposition chief has been in a position to mobilize big crowds of loyal supporters.

The federal government, in flip, portrays Khan as a corrupt trickster who has employed authorized maneuvers to remain out of jail. The federal government has backers in Pakistan’s highly effective army, which has managed the nation for a lot of its 75-year historical past.

HOW IS THIS ARREST DIFFERENT?

Khan is being held in Attock, a infamous lockup for convicted militants and violent criminals. Officers aware of circumstances there mentioned he has his personal cell with a fan and separate bathing amenities, a step up from the jail’s typically harsh circumstances. The officers spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t allowed to temporary the media.

That is in marked distinction to Khan’s temporary detention in Could, after he was dragged from a court docket listening to on a distinct set of corruption fees by anti-graft officers. The Supreme Courtroom intervened swiftly, declaring the detention unlawful. Khan was allowed to remain at a visitor home in a police compound and will obtain guests whereas the authorized arguments over his detention performed out. Khan ultimately returned to Labore, the place his automobile was showered with rose petals.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The Supreme Courtroom may overturn Khan’s conviction and sentence on attraction — an end result that political analyst Imtiaz Gul believes is probably going.

“There was completely no stable case towards Imran Khan, who needed to face this conviction due to a technical mistake,” mentioned Gul, who heads the Heart for Analysis and Safety Research, an Islamabad-based suppose tank.

Info Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed in an announcement defending the conviction that help for Khan is eroding.

“He could deceive just a few naive, gullible supporters, however most people now acknowledges his true nature,” she wrote. “His pretense has been stripped away, revealing the face of a person who evaded the regulation, exploited state items for trivial income.”

If Khan’s conviction stands, he will not be capable of lead his occasion into an election as a result of these with prison convictions are barred from operating for workplace. However even from behind bars, he may wield vital political affect.

After his detention in Could, his supporters demonstrated their potential to disrupt public life. Tens of 1000’s of Khan loyalists rampaged via cities, a few of them destroying army and authorities property. The federal government cracked down, detaining greater than 7,000, with some prosecutions nonetheless ongoing.

By comparability, the response to Khan’s arrest this weekend was rather more muted, probably due to fears of one other crackdown. His requires peaceable protests failed to evoke widespread help.

WHAT IS THE POLITICAL FALLOUT?

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is more likely to dissolve parliament within the coming weeks, probably paving the best way for elections by mid-November. The federal government may delay the vote by a number of months if it decides to redraw constituencies based mostly on latest census outcomes.

Khan’s imprisonment may win him and his occasion better electoral help. It will additionally feed into the political persona he created after shedding energy — that of a fearless campaigner for Pakistan’s deprived.

“The following elections are more likely to be held with out lively participation of Imran Khan, however even from jail, he has the potential to successfully run a marketing campaign for his candidates,” mentioned political analyst Azim Chaudhry.



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