A Pakistani court suspended former premier Imran Khan’s sentence in a case involving state gifts and gave him bail, a development that gives major relief to the embattled leader months before the national elections.
(Bloomberg) — A Pakistani court suspended former premier Imran Khan’s sentence in a case involving state gifts and gave him bail, a development that gives major relief to the embattled leader months before the national elections.
Islamabad High Court’s panel of justices accepted Khan’s appeal against his three-year jail term, Naeem Haider Panjutha, spokesman for Khan’s legal affairs, posted on Twitter, the social media platform Elon Musk is renaming X. A lower court judge earlier this month found the former cricket star guilty of hiding the income made from selling gifts including Rolex watches and jewelry. The court will continue hearing the case after the order.
It’s unclear if the politician will be released from jail as the authorities want him under arrest for other criminal cases. A few hours after the order, Khan’s officials received a notice that the former premier will stay in jail at least until presented in a separate case on Aug. 30 for disclosing a secret diplomatic cable. His legal team has filed a petition to forestall arrest in other cases, the politician’s lawyer Salman Safdar, said by phone.
Khan, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote last year, can still mobilize his party for the general elections. The election commission has delayed voting till after November as officials need time to redraw constituencies. Khan is still disqualified from taking part in elections or holding public office until the higher courts overturn the trial court’s verdict.
The head of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party blamed the army of conspiring with former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the US to oust him citing a diplomatic cable. All three have denied the allegation. Khan’s deputy and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has also been arrested in the same investigation.
The 70-year-old leader was the most popular politician in Pakistan, according to a Gallup survey published in March. The army and the government have since then moved to curtail Khan’s influence after his supporters were accused of damaging state property in May following his brief arrest.
Many of Khan’s associates were arrested in a crackdown soon after and several of them have left his party to join other political groups. The politician, who used to draw tens of thousands of people to his rallies, was confining himself to a private home in Lahore and only leaving it to seek bail for the scores of court cases leveled against him.
(Updates with details in third and fifth paragraphs)
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