Imran Khan : Political Turmoil Grips Pakistan | Sportsmonks
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Imran Khan : Political Turmoil Grips Pakistan

Imran Khan

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister and cricket icon, Imran Khan, has received a 14-year prison sentence alongside his wife, Bushra Bibi, in the ‘Toshakhana’ case. The charges stem from the alleged sale of gifts received during Imran’s tenure as prime minister without declaring the proceeds for tax purposes. Additionally, Imran faces a hefty fine of PKR 787 million (approximately US$2.9 million), coupled with an extension of his political ban from five to ten years. This verdict follows a separate ten-year sentence on related charges, contributing to the legal challenges Imran has encountered since his removal as prime minister in April 2022.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the political party founded and led by Imran, has strongly criticized the trial court’s proceedings, denouncing the trial as a “sham.” The sentencing occurs within a broader state crackdown on the PTI as general elections loom, leading to the party’s ban from participating, the dispersal of political rallies, and disruptions in media coverage.

The International Federation for Human Rights has expressed serious concern about the denial of Imran’s access to his chosen legal counsel, deeming it a “flagrant violation of rights enshrined in international law.” Despite these legal setbacks, Imran remains a popular figure in Pakistani politics, with recent independent polls indicating sustained public support.

This sentencing unfolds against a backdrop of heightened tensions and restrictions on the PTI, raising questions about the fairness of the legal proceedings. The state’s actions include a ban on mentioning Imran’s name on Pakistani TV, dispersal of PTI-organized rallies with police interventions, and internet blackouts coinciding with virtual fundraisers. Authorities contend that these measures are unrelated to the legal proceedings against Imran.

The International Federation for Human Rights, responding to the ten-year sentence announced earlier this week, condemned the “disturbing disregard for the basic principles of justice and due process.” They highlighted Imran’s denial of access to his chosen legal representation as a significant violation of rights under international law.

As Pakistan approaches general elections in eight days, the absence of opinion polling and the restrictions on the PTI have raised concerns about the fairness of the electoral process. Imran’s popularity, evident in past violent uprisings and a subsequent internet blackout when he was arrested in May 2023, adds a layer of complexity to the current political landscape.

There has been no immediate response from Imran or his legal team following the recent sentencing, but an appeal is anticipated. The legal battles, political bans, and the broader state crackdown underscore the challenges faced by Imran Khan and the PTI as they navigate a contentious political environment in Pakistan.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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