Pakistan Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan Sentenced To 10 Years In Jail Ahead Of National Elections

Pakistan Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan Sentenced To 10 Years In Jail Ahead Of National Elections

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

A Pakistan court sentenced Imran Khan to 10 years’ jail on Tuesday for leaking state secrets, his party said, the harshest sentence against the former prime minister and cricketer in multiple cases coming just days before national elections.

The special court found Khan guilty of making public the contents of a secret cable sent by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington to the government in Islamabad, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said.

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also sentenced to 10 years in the same case.

The jail term is the second conviction for Khan in recent months, and ensures the popular politician will remain out of the public spotlight ahead of next week’s parliamentary vote which will also lead to the nomination of a new prime minister.

The court was due to issue its written verdict later.

The PTI said it would challenge the decision. “We don’t accept this illegal decision,” Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Panjutha, posted on social media platform X.

Khan aide Zulfikar Bukhari told the media that the legal team was given no chance to represent him or cross examine witnesses, adding that the proceedings were carried out in jail.

Another of Khan’s lawyers, Ali Zafar, revealed that given the circumstances of the trial and sentencing, the chances of the case being quashed on appeal was “100%”.

Bukhari called the conviction an attempt to weaken support for Khan. “People will now make sure they come out and vote in larger numbers,” he told the media.

Khan was previously sentenced to three years in a corruption case, which had already ruled him out of the election next week.

However, his legal team was hoping to get him released from jail, where he has been since August last year, but the latest conviction means that is unlikely even as the charges are contested in a higher court.

The party of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s main political opponent, said the verdict was not harsh enough.

“I think, based on his carelessness and crime – pertaining to important national interests – this is a very light sentence,” Ahsan Iqbal, a senior Sharif aide, said in a TV interview.

Analysts believe Sharif’s party is the frontrunner to form the next government following the polls.

The sentencing just before the polls will “raise questions about the elections’ credibility”, said Mazhar Abbas, a Karachi-based analyst.

Pakistan’s recovery from economic crisis depends on political stability. The election comes as Pakistan is navigating a tricky recovery path under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund bailout that helped the country narrowly avert a sovereign default last year.

Khan has been fighting dozens of cases since he was ousted from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in 2022.

Khan says the secret cable mentioned in the case was proof of a conspiracy by the Pakistani military and the U.S. government to topple his government in 2022 after he visited Moscow, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Washington and the Pakistan military deny the accusations.

The former prime minister has previously said the contents of the cable appeared in the media from other sources.

Khan’s PTI, which won the 2018 elections, suffered a major setback earlier this month when a court upheld the Election Commission’s decision to strip the party of its traditional election symbol, the cricket bat.

His candidates are now contesting as independents, many of them on the run amid what the party calls a crackdown backed by the military. The military denies this.

Khan’s media team posted a message from the jailed leader on X in the moments that led up to the verdict.

“These people want to provoke you by giving me a harsh sentence in this case so that you go out on the streets and protest, then add unknown people to the crowd and then do another false flag operation,” the post said.

In May last year, the first time Khan was arrested, his supporters were accused of rioting and ransacking military installations, including a high-ranking general’s home. Khan denies his supporters were part of the mob.

He called on his supporters to make sure they came out in numbers to vote for candidates backed by him.

“This is your war and this is your test that you have to take revenge for every injustice by your vote on February 8 while remaining peaceful,” the post added.

But Who Is Imran Khan?

Khan rose to power more than two decades after he launched Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan Movement for Justice party. Despite his fame and status as a hero in cricket-mad Pakistan, PTI languished in Pakistan’s political wilderness, not winning a seat other than Khan’s for 17 years.

In 2011, Khan began drawing huge crowds of young Pakistanis disillusioned with endemic corruption, chronic electricity shortages and crises in education and unemployment.

He drew even greater backing in the ensuing years, with educated Pakistani expatriates leaving their jobs to work for his party and pop musicians and actors joining his campaign.

His goal, Khan told supporters in 2018, was to turn Pakistan from a country with a “small group of wealthy and a sea of poor” into an “example for a humane system, a just system, for the world, of what an Islamic welfare state is”.

He won the election, a sporting hero at the pinnacle of politics. Observers cautioned, however, that his biggest enemy was his own rhetoric, having raised supporters’ hopes sky high.

Born in 1952, Khan grew up with four sisters in an affluent urban Pashtun family in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-biggest city.

After a privileged education, he went on to the University of Oxford, where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

As his cricket career flourished, he developed a playboy reputation in London in the late 1970s.

In 1995, he married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of business tycoon James Goldsmith. The couple, who had two sons, divorced in 2004. A second marriage, to TV journalist Reham Nayyar Khan, also ended in divorce.

His third marriage, to Bushra Bibi, a spiritual leader whom Khan came to know during his visits to a 13th century shrine in Pakistan, reflected his deepening interest in Sufism – a form of Islamic practice that emphasises spiritual closeness to God.

Once in power, Khan embarked on a plan of building a welfare state modelled on what he said was an ideal system dating back to the Islamic world some 14 centuries earlier.

But his anti-corruption drive was heavily criticised as a tool for sidelining political opponents – many of whom were imprisoned on charges of graft.

Pakistan’s generals also remained powerful and military officers, retired and serving, were placed in charge of more than a dozen civilian institutions.

Khan was pushed out as premier in April 2022 amid public frustration at high inflation, rising deficits and endemic corruption that he had promised to stamp out.

The Supreme Court overturned his decision to dissolve parliament, and defections from his ruling coalition meant he lost a subsequent no-confidence vote.

With that, Khan became the latest in an unbroken line of elected Pakistani prime ministers who did not serve their full terms. an accessible web community

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