Pakistan’s election commission has disqualified former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office for five years.
Khan had been accused of incorrectly declaring details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale. The gifts included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.
His lawyers say they will challenge the commission’s verdict in the high court. Meanwhile, protests are erupting in different Pakistani cities in support of the popular politician.
According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, the written ruling says Mr Khan “made false statement [sic] and incorrect declaration before the commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21” and so attracted disqualification.
As a result of the disqualification, he “ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly,” the ruling adds.
Mr Khan admitted last month to having sold at least four gifts he had received during his tenure as prime minister, and that they had been included in his income tax returns.
Government officials must declare all gifts, but are allowed to keep those below a certain value.
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Khan – who has denied the charges against him – previously said he had not made public some gifts on national security grounds, but in a written submission admitted buying items worth nearly $100,000 (£90,000), and later selling them for more than twice that amount.
Since being ousted from power in April, Mr Khan has been a vocal critic of the government and the country’s army.
The former leader has toured the country to deliver a series of fiery speeches calling for fresh elections.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, reacted to the ruling, said the court had delivered justice.
“The nation has seen that the post of Prime Minister was made a source of personal income through corrupt practices. The idol of ‘sadiq and ameen’ has been shattered,” he tweeted, calling on Imran to bow down before the law instead of “contesting the law, wielding sticks, firing shots and bringing mobs.”
“No one is above the law,” he added.
“Pakistan’s first certified liar and certified thief disqualified with irrefutable evidence of theft,” PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said.
And PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “He now stands disqualified. He who would spread lies about alleged corruption of his political opponents has been caught red-handed.”