Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sentenced to three years in prison for “corrupt practices,” according to local media.
The jail term was announced in the “Toshakhana state gift case” by a trial court in the capital Islamabad this morning, without Khan being present.
Khan was accused of selling state gifts in a case filed by the country’s Election Commission in May.
The 70-year-old politician is said to have misused his premiership from 2018 to 2022 to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000).
He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the charges are politically motivated.
Khan’s lawyer Intezar Panjotha said police have already arrested Khan from his residence. “We are filing a petition against the decision in High Court,” Panjotha added.
Legal experts say a conviction in the case could end his chances of participating in national elections that have to be held before early November.
In a recorded message to the nation in the event of his arrest, Imran Khan said: “I have one request, one appeal. You should not be sitting quietly in your homes. This effort and struggle that I’m pursuing, it’s not for myself. It’s for my nation, for you, for your children’s future. If you don’t stand up for your rights, you are going to be enslaved and live like slaves. And the life of a slave is not a life. Slaves are like ants on the ground which can’t fly.
“It was a big dream for Pakistan to have the slogan: ‘La illaha ilallah.’ And what does this mean for Pakistan? That we do not bow down to any humans. La illaha illallah frees us from enslavement to any humans. And our Prophet (pbuh) in Medinah, the first thing he did was to free everybody with justice. This is a war of justice, for your rights and for your freedom.
“And remember no one will hand you freedom on a plate. The chains don’t just fall off, you have to break them. You have to continue to protest to get your rights. Your fundamental right is to use your vote to select your government so no other group seizes control of this country like the present government has.”
Meanwhile, the International Human Rights Foundation (IHRF) said it “strongly condemns the unjust imprisonment of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been sentenced to three years in prison following a grossly unfair trial.”
It added: “This case of lawfare has been orchestrated by the military establishment, working in tandem with its political proxies and allied media, who have silenced opposition by resorting to the arrest and even assassination of dissenting voices, as in the case of Arshad Sarif.
“The Pakistani deep state have consistently undermined Mr Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, despite their considerable lead in the opinion polls. Indeed, Mr Khan has already been the subject of an assassination attempt, from which he narrowly escaped with injuries.
“We reiterate the need for the forthcoming elections in a few months’ time to take place unhindered. We call for peace and full respect for human rights. The military authority must bow to the command of the elected civilian power, without interference from outside sovereignties.”
More to follow…