The following mention appeared in Qatar Tribune on August 5, 2023, at the following link
Pakistan’s former prime minister and opposition leader Imran Khan was arrested on Saturday after a court sentenced him to three years in prison on corruption charges.
“PTI chairman has been arrested from his Lahore residence,” the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) said in a statement.
A district court in Islamabad found Khan “guilty of corrupt practices” and ordered the arrest, saying “(Khan’s) dishonesty has been proven beyond doubt.” The court accused Khan of lying about state gifts received during his tenure, a party spokesman confirmed to DPA.
The conviction, which was handed down in abstentia, bans Khan from political office for the next five years. Khan, who has always denied the allegations, can still appeal the verdict. The move is likely to stoke further tensions in the country. When Khan was last arrested in May, his supporters stormed government institutions.
Many are still being tried under the country’s army laws for the deadly riots. Khan’s party has raised questions over the proceedings, saying witnesses were not given enough of a chance and that his legal team did not have enough time to sum up their arguments.
“Khan was arrested after the due process,” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb told media on the other hand.
There were more than 40 hearings in the case and Khan attended only three, she said. She said the government had not used state machinery against Khan the way he had against the opposition in the past. The minister said that Khan is accused of stealing expensive watches, diamond rings and necklaces from the state depository. Aurangzeb also added that the arrest has nothing to do with the elections.
The cricketer-turned-politician has been faced with a long list of charges ranging from mutiny to murder in more than 100 cases. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an independent anti-graft body, is also probing a multi-million-dollar property deal involving Khan and a real estate tycoon.
Dozens of key leaders from his party ditched him ahead of the next elections. “It was expected that Khan would be arrested in one or the other case and disqualified ahead of the next elections,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, president of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), told DPA.
Mehboob said Saturday’s verdict disqualifies Khan for the next elections, which would deny the party’s prospects since Khan is the star campaigner.
He added that it was too early to tell how much damage the arrest would cause for Khan’s PTI.
PTI’s secretary general Omar Ayub Khan did not directly call for protests about the arrest, saying instead: “Peaceful protest is every Pakistani’s constitutional right.” Pakistani politics have been in disarray since Khan was removed in a parliamentary vote of no confidence last year.