Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan was sentenced Tuesday for leaking classified state documents.
Khan’s sentencing comes as Pakistan goes to the polls next Thursday amid allegations of rigging.
Khan has been barred from running and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has been subject to a massive crackdown.
Khan was disqualified from running on the basis of a graft conviction last year.
Khan has been lodged in prison, leading up to the polls, buried under court cases he says have been used to prevent his return, after a fallout with Pakistan’s all-powerful military, which dictates much of the country’s politics.
Khan has been confined for much of the time since his August arrest at Adiala jail, where he was sentenced.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the former PTI vice-chairman who served as foreign minister during Khan’s four-year tenure, was also handed the same sentence.
The verdicts and sentences were confirmed by his party officials.
Party lawyers called Khan’s trial a travesty, saying they were ousted from the proceedings, denying Khan fair representation.
Local media also reported the convictions and sentencing, while the state media has also reported on the matter under strict censorship measures, without mentioning Khan.
Over 100 million Pakistanis are eligible to vote in next week’s election and Khan’s sentencing is sure to weigh on people’s minds.
Khan was ousted in 2022 by a parliamentary no-confidence vote. He had then alleged the military had, in a US-backed conspiracy, sought to push him out.
Khan also survived an assassination bid which wounded him, for which he also held the military responsible.
Khan failed to provide any evidence of his allegations.
Khan was briefly arrested last May, and a sweeping crackdown on PTI saw many senior leaders jailed, defect or go underground.
PTI has been largely absent in the public eye on-ground before the February polls, even their online presence has been affected by Internet blackouts, as the country grapples with an economic crisis.
The return of Nawaz Sharif who has returned from self-imposed exile and seen his myriad convictions disappear has got many discussing his possible campaign for the top job.
Analysts say it’s a sign the three-time former prime minister, hailing from one of the dynastic parties which have governed Pakistan, is again in favour with the military top brass.
According to Pakistan’s constitution, elections must be held within 90 days of parliament being dissolved.
As five months have passed since the dissolution of the assembly, Pakistan’s election commission blamed the delay on the need to redraw constituency boundaries following a new census in 2023
The country has been ruled by a caretaker government under PM Anwar ul Haq Kakar.
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