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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Imran Khan arrested after jail sentence for corruption, his get together says

Pakistani police arrested Saturday the previous prime minister and foremost opposition chief, Imran Khan, after a court docket sentenced him to 3 years in jail on corruption fees, threatening his probabilities of a political comeback.

His arrest within the metropolis of Lahore got here simply days forward of an anticipated determination by Pakistan’s authorities to dissolve parliament and pave the way in which for a common election. Khan appeared intent on working in these polls, however the court docket ruling Saturday, which his authorized crew was interesting, might lead to a years-long ban from politics.

Khan, a former cricket star, denied the accusations towards him. In a pre-recorded message, he urged his supporters to protest the decision, telling them to not “hold hiding at house.”

“My pursuit isn’t a private battle,” he mentioned, including that what was at stake is “the way forward for your youngsters.”

However there was little seen opposition on the streets on Saturday — a departure from the unrest that flared throughout Pakistan after his first arrest on separate corruption fees earlier this yr. In that case, the Supreme Court docket later intervened, declaring his arrest illegal.

Pakistani Supreme Court docket declares Imran Khan arrest illegal

However since then, Pakistani authorities, together with the army, have cracked down on Khan’s supporters and the management of his get together, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Motion for Justice. Scores of political aides and get together members have resigned, citing stress from the army, which supported Khan earlier than he in the end fell out of favor with the highly effective generals.

The army has lengthy performed a dominant position in Pakistani politics, wielding affect on political candidates behind the scenes — and overthrowing a number of governments.

Within the months main as much as his ouster by parliament in April final yr, Khan clashed with the army management over the choice of nominees for key military positions and criticism that his authorities was failing to deal with hovering inflation and debt. Khan and the army additionally appeared more and more divided on international coverage. In March final yr, Khan accused the U.S. authorities and Pakistani opposition of conspiring towards him, prompting U.S. denials and dismaying the army management that was in search of to take care of a working relationship with the US.

Over one yr on, Khan’s get together is a shadow of its former self. “Most of our high management is underground,” Raoof Hasan, a PTI spokesman, mentioned Saturday.

His remaining allies additionally criticized the ruling Saturday. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the vice chairman of Khan’s get together, mentioned the trial was “biased” and “political,” and the ruling “pre-determined.”

Officers denied that characterization of the proceedings, which centered on allegations that Khan offered state items from international dignitaries. Senior inside affairs official Attaullah Tarar mentioned the trial’s end result confirmed that Khan was “a convicted thief and felony.”

However his arrest might additionally problem civilian and army leaders as Pakistan grapples with an financial disaster and a spate of current terror assaults.

If Khan managed to get on the poll regardless of his incarceration, his populist enchantment should still assist him win the upcoming vote, analysts say. Voters additionally could get annoyed if the election — which is to date anticipated to happen in November — is delayed, in line with Khan’s allies.

PTI has accused the federal government of stalling the vote by making an attempt to redraw constituencies. The aim, the get together says, is to offer the federal government sufficient time to finalize Khan’s ban from politics forward of the vote.

Officers rejected these claims on Saturday. “The regulation has naturally taken its course,” Info Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb mentioned in an announcement.

Noack reported from Paris and Hussain from Islamabad. Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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