In a shocking development, Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, has been sentenced to three years in prison and subsequently arrested by the authorities. The court found him guilty of illegally selling state gifts that were received during his visits abroad while he held the premiership from 2018 to 2022.
Concerns have been raised about the judge’s impartiality due to his past Facebook posts from 2020, where he made derogatory remarks against Khan, leading many to question his suitability to hear the case fairly. Additionally, Judge Dilawar refused Khan’s request to present witnesses in his defense and announced the decision even when Islamabad High Court hadn’t even listened to the petition against him. These revelations have deepened public mistrust in the judicial system and fueled accusations of collusion between the establishment and the opposition to bring down Imran Khan.
These accusations intensify as Judge Humayun Dilawar, who sentenced former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to three years in prison, has reportedly fled the country with his family after the verdict. The revelation has caused an uproar, raising concerns about the impartiality of the judge who was not fit to take this case as described earlier.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician faced serious accusations of misusing his position of power to engage in the buying and selling of state possessions, which were worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($497,500). The verdict was delivered by Judge Humayun Dilawar, who asserted that Khan’s dishonesty and corrupt practices were evident and intentional.
Along with the prison sentence, Imran Khan has been slapped with a fine of PKR 100,000 (around $355). Failure to pay the fine could result in an additional six months of imprisonment.
The arrest was executed by the police at Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore, and Pakistani media reported a heavy presence of law enforcement surrounding his home following the release of the court’s verdict. In response to his conviction, Khan’s legal team, led by lawyer Intezar Panjotha, stated their intention to challenge the decision in the high court by filing a petition.
Prior to his arrest, Imran Khan released a video on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), urging his supporters to rise and protest against the verdict.
He asserted that his struggle was not merely for his own self, but for the betterment of the nation and the future of its citizens, particularly the children. In an impassioned plea, he warned that failing to stand up for their rights would lead to a life of subjugation akin to that of slaves.
In the same post, Khan referred to the “London Plan,” a term he uses to describe an alleged plot involving current army chief General Asim Munir and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been residing in self-exile in London since 2019, to remove him from the political arena. However, Khan has yet to present any concrete evidence supporting the existence of this supposed plot.
This marks the second time this year that the popular opposition leader has faced detainment, and his previous arrest in May led to widespread political turmoil, with clashes erupting between his supporters and law enforcement, and military installations being targeted.
Imran Khan’s legal battles have been a subject of contention, with him denying any wrongdoing and attributing the charges against him to political motives. The current conviction could potentially impact his eligibility to participate in national elections scheduled before early November.
It remains to be seen how Imran Khan’s conviction will shape the political landscape in Pakistan, as he has repeatedly accused Pakistan’s military of targeting him and his party to prevent his return to power, a military which has a background of intervening in politics. Even most recently, former Chief of Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa accepted that he was intervening when Khan was in power.