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Pakistan Jails Its Most Popular Politician Imran Khan for 10 Years

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, already imprisoned on corruption charges, was sentenced on Tuesday to an additional 10 years in prison for mishandling security documents.

The new conviction was announced just nine days before Pakistan’s general election, which would likely make Mr Khan a front-runner for prime minister if he were not jailed.

Khan is declared A special court convened under Pakistan’s Official Secrets Act will prosecute “crypto cases” involving secret processing. diplomatic documents The summer of 2023 has become somewhat infamous in its own right.

The secret diplomatic cable contained details of a March 2022 meeting between Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, and U.S. State Department officials. Ambassador Khan said the State Department was outraged by Khan’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and had made it clear that it wanted to install someone else in the prime minister’s office.

“If the no-confidence vote against the prime minister is successful, I think everything will be forgiven in Washington because the trip to Russia is considered the prime minister’s decision. If not, I think things will be tough going forward.” said Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lew to Ambassador Khan.

A vote of no confidence is true. success The following month, Imran Khan became the first Pakistani prime minister to be removed from office over such a move. Mr. Khan angrily cited the diplomatic cables as evidence that his ouster was a foreign conspiracy orchestrated by the United States.

The authenticity of the cables continues to be disputed, with the State Department insisting that no matter what the cables say, the Biden administration has no position on who Pakistan’s prime minister should be. ing.

A special Pakistani court has ruled that Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi mishandled the crypto case documents and sentenced them both to 10 years in prison.

Khan is accused He displayed a diplomatic cable at a political rally in March 2022, before a vote of no confidence to remove him from office, claiming it was evidence of a foreign conspiracy targeting him.Qureshi, a senior leader in Khan’s government Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has also been accused of revealing confidential government documents to gain political advantage. Both claimed they did not know what happened to the codes after they disappeared from Khan’s office.

Khan is already Banned He will be eligible to run for five years by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Qureshi, like Khan, was already in prison, but until Tuesday’s ruling he was allowed to run for parliament and barred from running for president.

Khan claimed the verdict was part of a vengeful plot between Pakistan’s military and foreign powers to prevent his return to power. His sister Aleema suggested that opponents were “telling” the judge, who rushed the trial to an end before U.S. officials and Pakistani military leaders were called to testify.

PTI accused the special court of being a “sham trial” and “a complete mockery and disregard for the law”. Khan’s party urged voters to cast their votes on February 8, predicting that Tuesday’s ruling would be thrown out on appeal.

“Don’t get angry; don’t take the law into your hands. There’s no need to throw a stone. Show patience,” PTI leader Gohar Khan added.

tens of thousands of khan supporters held gathering Demonstrations took place across the country on Sunday, despite the government’s ban on demonstrations. Police in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators and arrested dozens of people. In its response, PTI condemned the crackdown, calling it “one of the most shameful acts” ever taken by the current government.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Pati supporters clash with police during an election campaign rally in Karachi, Pakistan, January 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

The interim government has reportedly summoned dozens of journalists to PTI for running a “malicious social media campaign” against Pakistan’s Supreme Court. control PTI said it could no longer use the famous cricket bat logo, which was chosen to honor Khan’s career as a star player.

The logo ban was a major blow to the PTI, as rural Pakistan has a high proportion of illiterate voters, who tend to look for party symbols to mark their ballots.

Information Minister Murtaza Solangi confirmed that an “investigation is underway” into allegations of attempting to undermine the Supreme Court.

“An investigation is underway. We are monitoring hundreds of accounts and will take action against them,” Solangi vowed.

Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission on Saturday denounced “escalating levels of censorship” by the interim government, including “deliberate internet outages to suppress digital gatherings”.

Despite this uproar, Al Jazeera News on Tuesday explained The mood among voters in Pakistan is “subdued” and “very devoid of the festive atmosphere that often occurs during campaign season.”

“This election was rigged like no other in Pakistan’s history. Holding the May 9 election without Imran Khan and the PTI would be nothing short of cathartic for the military. It’s not even a thing. That’s their bottom line,” an anonymous former federal minister complained to Al Jazeera.

Police use water cannons to disperse supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against the arrest of Pakistan’s leader in Karachi, Pakistan, May 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

“May 9th” was Khan’s supporters’ day. a riot broke out He was sent across the country after being arrested in a highly controversial paramilitary operation. The riot caused damage to some military property, and the military issued a stern warning that such vandalism would never be tolerated again.

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