Imran Khan Arrested, Given 3 Years In Prison, Banned From Pakistan Politics Ahead Of Elections

 Via The Cradle, 

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was sentenced to three years in jail on Saturday by a court in Islamabad on charges of illegally selling state gifts. The popular opposition leader was promptly arrested from his home in Lahore after the court handed down the sentence. The court also disqualified him from politics for five years, banning his political activities.

Before being taken into custody, Khan released a video on social media saying his arrest was "expected" and calling on his supporters to protest peacefully.

Via Reuters

"When you receive this message, I will be arrested, and I will be in prison," said Khan. "I only have one request, one appeal for you. You must not sit quietly inside your homes. The struggle I am doing is not for my own self, it’s for my nation, for you. For the future of your children."

"If you don’t stand up for your rights, you will live lives of slaves and slaves don’t have a life," he added. Khan also stressed that Saturday's verdict is "one more step in fulfilling [the] London Plan," a term he uses to refer to an alleged plot between current army chief General Asim Munir and three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been in self-exile in London since 2019.

Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said following his arrest that an appeal has already been filed in Pakistan's Supreme Court over the district court order.

"The decision of the Kangaroo Court of [additional district and sessions judge Humayun Dilawar] was not yet received by anyone in the court, but the Lahore Police was already there to kidnap the PTI chairman. Chairman Imran Khan did not resist. Every process from the beginning of the case to the trial and from the trial to the abduction is illegal," the party said in a post on its official social media account.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician stood accused of misusing his role as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000).

The verdict includes a 100,000 rupees fine ($355). Khan's arrest on Saturday marked the second time he has been detained this year. His arrest in May was met with violent clashes between his supporters and police across the country, which left several dead and hundreds injured. Authorities also rounded up the leadership of the PTI and over 2,000 Khan supporters.

Khan’s arrest comes just three months before crucial elections in November, where many expected him to win the largest democratic mandate ever secured by any politician in the 75-year history of Pakistan.

The former premier was ousted last year in a US-backed parliamentary coup that saw Shehbaz Sharif – a protégé of the Sharif business dynasty that has governed Pakistan for much of the previous three decades – come to power. Since his ousting, he has been arrested, charged with "terrorism," banned from running for office, and even survived an assassination attempt.

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