Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

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Pakistani police on Saturday arrested the previous prime minister and principal opposition chief, Imran Khan, after a court docket sentenced him to 3 years in jail on corruption costs, threatening his probabilities of a political comeback.

His arrest within the metropolis of Lahore got here days forward of an anticipated resolution by Pakistan’s authorities to dissolve parliament and pave the way in which for a normal election. Khan appeared intent on operating in these polls, however the court docket ruling Saturday, which his authorized workforce appealed, may end in a years-long ban from politics.

Khan, a former cricket star, denied the accusations in opposition to him. In a prerecorded message, he urged his supporters to protest the decision, telling them to not “hold hiding at house.”

“My pursuit isn’t a private battle,” he mentioned, including that what’s at stake is “the way forward for your youngsters.”

However there was little seen opposition on the streets on Saturday — a departure from the unrest that flared throughout Pakistan after his first arrest on separate corruption costs earlier this yr. In that case, the Supreme Court docket later intervened, declaring his arrest illegal.

Pakistani Supreme Court docket declares Imran Khan arrest illegal

However since then, Pakistani authorities, together with the navy, have cracked down on Khan’s supporters and the management of his get together, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Motion for Justice. Scores of political aides and get together members have resigned, citing strain from the navy, which supported Khan earlier than he finally fell out of favor with the highly effective generals.

The navy has lengthy performed a dominant function in Pakistani politics, wielding affect on political candidates behind the scenes — and overthrowing a number of governments.

Within the months main as much as his ouster by parliament in April final yr, Khan clashed with the navy management over the choice of nominees for key military positions and criticism that his authorities was failing to deal with hovering inflation and debt. Khan and the navy additionally appeared more and more divided on international coverage. In March final yr, Khan accused the U.S. authorities and Pakistani opposition of conspiring in opposition to him, prompting U.S. denials and dismaying the navy management that was searching for to keep up a working relationship with america.

Multiple yr later, Khan’s get together is a shadow of its former self. “Most of our high management is underground,” Raoof Hasan, a PTI spokesman, mentioned Saturday.

His remaining allies additionally criticized the ruling Saturday. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the vice chairman of Khan’s get together, mentioned the trial was “biased” and “political” and the ruling was “predetermined.”

Officers denied such characterization of the proceedings, which centered on allegations that Khan bought state presents from international dignitaries. Senior inside affairs official Attaullah Tarar mentioned the trial’s final result confirmed that Khan was “a convicted thief and prison.”

However his arrest may additionally problem civilian and navy leaders as Pakistan grapples with an financial disaster and a spate of latest terrorist assaults.

If Khan managed to get on the poll regardless of his incarceration, his populist attraction should assist him win the upcoming vote, analysts say. Voters additionally might get annoyed if the election — which is up to now anticipated to happen in November — is delayed, in response to Khan’s allies.

PTI has accused the federal government of stalling the vote by making an attempt to redraw constituencies. The purpose, the get together says, is to offer the federal government sufficient time to finalize Khan’s ban from politics forward of the vote.

Officers rejected these claims Saturday. “The regulation has naturally taken its course,” Info Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb mentioned in a press release.

Noack reported from Paris and Hussain from Islamabad. Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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