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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, a major figure in Pakistani politics and a vocal critic of the country’s military establishment, was sentenced to three years in prison on Saturday, August 5, 2023, over corruption allegations.

The conviction could disqualify him from standing for office, possibly for life, and add complexity to the country’s fractious political landscape.

The Islamabad court found Mr. Khan guilty of not declaring money he earned from selling state gifts, a charge he adamantly denies and plans to appeal.

The gifts, reported to be worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees, included items such as Rolex watches, a ring, and a pair of cufflinks.

“We weren’t even given a chance. We weren’t even allowed to cross [examine], to say anything in defence or conduct our arguments. I haven’t seen this kind of injustice before,” Mr. Khan’s barrister Gohar Khan told journalists, describing the verdict as “a murder of justice.”

After the verdict was announced, Mr. Khan was taken into custody from his home in Lahore and transported to Islamabad to begin serving his sentence. His party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, confirmed his arrest and relocation to journalists.

The decision comes after months of evasion, with supporters clashing with police to prevent his arrest.

He was briefly arrested in May for failing to appear in court, only to be released when the arrest was declared illegal.

As the news spread, a crowd gathered outside the courthouse, with some prosecuting lawyers leading chants of “Imran Khan is a thief.”

In a pre-recorded statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr. Khan appealed to his supporters, saying: “I have only one appeal, don’t sit at home silently.”

The former cricketer, who turned to politics and was elected as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 2018, faced a no-confidence vote and subsequent ousting last year after falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military.

More than 100 cases have been filed against him since his removal, charges that he insists are politically motivated.

Mr. Khan’s contentious relationship with the military has been a recurring theme, and many analysts attribute his 2018 election win to military support.

However, since being ousted, he has become a prominent critic, and some say his outspokenness has contributed to a decline in the army’s popularity.

With Pakistan’s parliament set to dissolve on August 9, 2023, and elections to be held by early November, Mr. Khan’s conviction could have far-reaching effects on the political landscape.

It also poses a significant challenge to his ongoing campaign for early elections and his party, which has faced intense pressure, with senior officials departing and thousands of supporters arrested.

The sentencing marks a dramatic turning point for a figure who once symbolized a new era of change in Pakistani politics and adds to the turmoil in a country navigating political unrest and persistent allegations of corruption.

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