West News Wire: Imran Khan, a former prime minister of Pakistan, was taken into custody by police in the eastern city of Lahore after a court gave him a three-year prison sentence for selling state gifts illegally.
The 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician was charged with abusing his position as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 to purchase and resell goods that were brought back from trips abroad and were valued at more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($497,500).
His dishonesty has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge wrote in his decision. He was judged to have engaged in corrupt practices by willfully and knowingly concealing the benefits he received from the public exchequer.
A 100,000-rupee ($355) fine is part of the judgement; failure to pay it could result in an additional six months in jail.
Khan’s lawyer Intezar Panjotha said police arrested Khan at his residence in Lahore. Pakistani media described police surrounding his home after the verdict was released.
“We are filing a petition against the decision in high court,” Panjotha added.
Khan urged his supporters to demonstrate in the streets in a video that was shot before his detention and broadcast on social networking site X, formerly known as Twitter.
I’m only going to make one request or appeal to you. You must not remain motionless in your homes. I’m not fighting for myself; I’m fighting for my country and for you. For the sake of your kids’ future, he said.
“You will lead slave lives and slaves don’t have a life if you don’t stand up for your rights.”
In the post, Khan made reference to the “London Plan”, a term he uses to refer to an alleged plot between current army chief General Asim Munir and three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been in London since 2019 in self-exile, to oust him from politics. He has yet to provide evidence of its existence.
The well-liked opposition leader has been imprisoned twice so far this year.
In May, his detention for several days in connection with a different case led to a lot of political unrest. Supporters and police engaged in deadly battles, and numerous military sites came under attack.
Khan claimed in a post-event interview with news reporters that he was not so conceited as to think that the nation could not function without him.
All I know is that my struggle has lasted 27 years, and its fundamental takeaway is that nations cannot survive without the rule of law, he said.
“A civilised society is one in which everyone is treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, the rule of the jungle has always applied in Pakistan.
There have been no reports of emerging protests in any of the major cities immediately after Saturday’s arrest.