Imran Khan’s party to challenge his 3-year sentence

Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he believed that the requirements of justice were not met and also questioned the haste with which Imran Khan was arrested

August 05, 2023 06:05 pm | Updated 06:29 pm IST - Islamabad

Supporters of Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan shout anti-government slogans during a protest outside the press club in Quetta on August 5, 2023.

Supporters of Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan shout anti-government slogans during a protest outside the press club in Quetta on August 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP

The sentencing and arrest of Imran Khan in the Toshakhana corruption case is "politically motivated", his close aide and former Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on August 5, asserting that the party will challenge the verdict and use all legal means to defend the ex-Prime Minister.

Mr. Khan, 70, was arrested from his Zaman Park home in Lahore on August 5 shortly after an Islamabad trial court found him guilty of “corrupt practices” in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three years in prison.

The verdict, issued by Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar, comes as a blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief who has been arrested for the second time in three months.

Also Read: Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan arrested; gets 3 years in jail in Toshakhana corruption case

PTI Vice Chairman Mr. Qureshi rejected the conviction and subsequent arrest of Mr. Khan, saying the "much-feared" ruling was state-sanctioned and premeditated.

"I reject the court's verdict and believe it is a politically motivated and predetermined decision which was already expected," he told Geo News.

The case alleges that Mr. Khan “deliberately concealed” details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana, a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept, during his time as the Prime Minister and proceeds from their reported sales.

Mr. Qureshi said he believed that the requirements of justice were not met.

"PTI will use its right to challenge the decision by knocking on the doors of the higher judiciary. We will defend Imran Khan with all legal means. We will opt for all legal ways to defend him," the former Foreign Minister said.

Also Read: Pakistan’s history of jailing its former Prime Ministers

Mr. Qureshi said the party's core committee will issue its next line of action after the meeting.

Noting that the decision was taken in haste and announced on the weekend, he also questioned the immediate arrest of Mr. Khan by Lahore police that followed.

"It is a cause of concern that as the verdict is just being announced and the news was aired on television, the police arrived at Zaman Park to take Imran Khan in. Were the police already informed about the nature and the decision?" he asked.

"The criteria of justice are impartiality and adequate representation, and presenting witnesses before the jury. Were all these provided to his party head? "Was there not anyone in the whole judiciary, except Justice Humayun Dilawar who can fulfil the requirements of justice?" he said.

Mr. Khan is accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs 140 million (USD 635,000).

Also Read: Pakistan High Court sets aside lower court’s verdict to uphold maintainability of criminal proceedings against Imran Khan in Toshakhana case

According to a report, Mr. Khan, during his tenure as Prime Minister, went away with seven wrist watches worth Rs 96.6 million, landing the second spot across all three parties in terms of assessed value of watches retained.

He paid Rs 21 million to procure these watches, five of which were Rolex and one Graff, the report said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on October 21 last year, disqualified the former Prime Minister in the Toshakhana case for making "false statements and incorrect declaration".

In May, a trial court rejected Imran Khan's petition challenging the maintainability of the case and indicted the PTI chief, who denied all the allegations of misdeclaration of gifts.

Mr. Khan challenged the trial court's decision before the IHC, which sent the case back to the trial court for re-examination.

On July 8, the trial court concluded that the ECP's petition was maintainable and proceeded further against the former premier who then approached the Supreme Court for relief.

Mr. Khan is facing more than 140 cases across the country and faces charges like terrorism, violence, blasphemy, corruption and murder.

Mr. Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

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