The authorized crew for the previous prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, appealed his three-year jail sentence on Wednesday, kicking off a high-stakes and hotly contested authorized struggle that can decide Mr. Khan’s future and the nation’s political local weather because it heads into common elections later this yr.
Mr. Khan was arrested and jailed on Saturday after being discovered responsible in a corruption case, the newest twist in a surprising downfall for the chief, who has been in a political showdown with the nation’s highly effective army since his ouster final yr.
His allies argue that the court docket verdict, which discovered him responsible of hiding property after illegally promoting state items, was little greater than a politically motivated effort to sideline him. And for a lot of Pakistanis, the spectacle of Mr. Khan’s imprisonment supplied a hanging reminder that the nation’s army stays the last word and unmoving power behind Pakistan’s politics.
Within the Islamabad Excessive Courtroom on Wednesday, his authorized crew argued that the conviction represented a violation of Mr. Khan’s “elementary proper to due course of and truthful trial” and stated it was determined by a biased choose decided to convict him “no matter the deserves of the case,” in accordance with court docket paperwork.
His attorneys additionally sought to have him moved from a famously harsh jail to at least one extra suited to political prisoners, and are difficult an announcement by the nation’s election fee on Tuesday that Mr. Khan was barred from operating for workplace for 5 years.
Below Pakistani regulation, a convicted particular person is barred from operating for public workplace for a most of 5 years ranging from the conviction date.
Mr. Khan is the third former prime minister of Pakistan to be imprisoned lately. In 2018, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was arrested and jailed over corruption expenses, and a yr later — throughout Mr. Khan’s rule — one other former chief, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was imprisoned as a part of an anticorruption marketing campaign.
All three claimed they had been targets of political vendettas — an allegation that resonates in a rustic the place the army has dominated instantly for practically half of its historical past.
Mr. Khan’s political downfall has been significantly fraught — even by the requirements of Pakistan’s turbulent politics.
A world cricket star turned populist politician, Mr. Khan rose from the outskirts of politics to the nation’s highest workplace in 2018 with the serving to hand of the army institution.
After he fell out with the nation’s army leaders final yr and was faraway from workplace in a vote of no-confidence, he defied the everyday political script for an ousted chief and made a surprising comeback. For months, he drew 1000’s of supporters to rallies the place, in charismatic speeches, he tapped into Pakistanis’ widespread frustration with the nation’s political system.
To many, he appeared to harness the type of populist clout that when belonged solely to Pakistani spiritual leaders, and he quickly turned one of many few politicians to wield important political energy with out the assist of the army.
The nation’s generals took observe — and responded in power. In latest months, the army has focused him and his occasion in an intimidation marketing campaign that has successfully hollowed out his assist base within the lead-up to the following common elections anticipated this fall.
Within the Islamabad Excessive Courtroom on Wednesday, Mr. Khan’s attorneys described his first nights within the jail the place he’s being held, Attock, as a battle in opposition to bugs, particularly mosquitoes. Attock jail, whose occupants embrace convicted militants, is notoriously harsh.
The attorneys requested that Mr. Khan be moved to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, which affords comparatively higher services.
His attorneys additionally moved for the excessive court docket to right away droop Mr. Khan’s conviction within the state’s reward case, describing the choice as being “in opposition to the regulation” in court docket paperwork.
The court docket adjourned the listening to on his jail circumstances till Friday, and it turned down his attorneys’ request to right away droop the conviction till the state can provide a rebuttal to the case in a listening to subsequent week.
Paving the best way for the nation’s subsequent common elections, on Wednesday night the present prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, despatched the nation’s president a proper discover to dissolve the Parliament — a transfer that’s required in Pakistan earlier than common elections could be held. The ruling coalition is anticipated to arrange an interim authorities within the coming days that can oversee the election, which is anticipated to happen this fall.
Salman Masood contributed reporting.