Pakistan: Imran Khan Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison Ahead of Election

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan faces a 10-year sentence amid alleged political interference, impacting upcoming elections.
Pakistan: Imran Khan Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison Ahead of Election

ISLAMABAD: In a shocking turn of events, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice-President of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, have been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The verdict, handed down inside Adiala jail where Khan has been confined since August, comes less than two weeks before the upcoming elections, posing a significant setback for Khan's party.

The charges against Khan and Qureshi revolve around allegations of leaking classified state documents. The sentencing further intensifies the political turmoil surrounding Khan, who served as prime minister from 2018 to 2022. His removal from office followed a no-confidence vote and loss of support from the military, who he accused of orchestrating his ousting in a US-backed conspiracy.

The PTI party has been grappling with challenges, including a crackdown resulting in the arrest of Khan last May. The party has been stripped of its election symbol, and candidates are now compelled to run as individuals. Analysts argue that this move undermines the democratic process, creating an uneven playing field for the upcoming elections.

"This is a murder of justice," criticizes Tauseef Ahmed Khan, a human rights activist and political analyst. Despite the legal setbacks, he believes that Imran Khan's popularity among the people will surge due to perceived injustice. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's plight raises concerns about the fairness and transparency of the electoral process.

Meanwhile, the return of Nawaz Sharif, head of a historically influential political dynasty, from self-imposed exile, has seen his convictions dissolve in the courts. Analysts suggest that this may signal the military establishment's preference for Sharif, a three-time former prime minister.

The election landscape is further complicated by delays attributed to the Election Commission, which cited the need to redraw constituency boundaries following a 2023 census. The constitution mandates elections within 90 days of parliament dissolution, which occurred five months ago. In the interim, a caretaker government, viewed as pliable by the military establishment, has been overseeing Pakistan.

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Sentinel Assam