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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Arrested Following Three-Year Jail Sentence by Court

In a significant development, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested in Lahore on Saturday following a court’s verdict, sentencing him to three years in jail for unlawfully selling state gifts. This ruling has the potential to impact the opposition leader’s ability to participate in an upcoming national election anticipated in November.

Experts suggest that the guilty verdict delivered by an Islamabad district court could pose a serious challenge to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s chief rival in the forthcoming elections.

Imran Khan’s lawyer, Intezar Panjotha, confirmed the arrest, stating that they plan to file a petition against the decision in the high court. His political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has called for peaceful protests in response to the verdict, but the public reaction on Saturday evening was limited.

This arrest adds to a series of setbacks that have weakened Khan’s political standing, particularly after his fallout with Pakistan’s influential military and internal fragmentation within his party.

Lahore Police Chief Bilal Siddique Kamiana verified the arrest and informed Reuters that Khan would be transferred to the capital, Islamabad, and subsequently detained at Central Adiala Jail in nearby Rawalpindi, as specified in the arrest warrant.

The PTI filed an additional appeal to the Supreme Court earlier on Saturday, seeking further legal recourse for Khan’s defense.

Imran Khan, a renowned former cricket star who ventured into politics, served as prime minister from 2018 to 2022. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, as reiterated in a pre-recorded video message released by his party, where he urged supporters to protest peacefully.

Surprisingly, the conviction occurred one day after Pakistan’s high court temporarily suspended the district court trial. The reasons behind the trial proceeding despite the high court’s decision remain unclear.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khan’s deputy and former foreign minister, was announced by PTI to lead the party in Khan’s absence. Qureshi emphasized their determination to fight for Khan’s freedom through legal and peaceful means, adhering to Khan’s directives.

Following a meeting of the party’s top decision-making body on Saturday, a statement was released, calling for nationwide peaceful protests.

In contrast to the earlier violence witnessed during Khan’s brief arrest in May, the reaction to his current arrest remained relatively subdued.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb asserted that Khan’s arrest followed a thorough investigation and proper legal proceedings in a trial court. She emphasized that the arrest was unrelated to the upcoming elections.

According to a copy of the court verdict shared by Khan’s legal team, he was found guilty of making false statements regarding the acquisition of official state gifts, deliberately and intentionally concealing the benefits he received from the national exchequer.

The verdict stated, “He has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from national exchequer willfully and intentionally. He cheated while providing information about gifts he obtained from Toshakhana (the state gift repository) which later proved to be false and inaccurate.”

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