Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan’s jail remand extended by two weeks

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s jail remand related to charges of leaking state secrets was extended by two weeks on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

The 70-year-old former cricket star has been at the centre of a political crisis since he lost a confidence vote in parliament in April 2022, and his conviction in a separate corruption case last month resulted in him being barred from contesting national elections.

In late August, a high court suspended Khan’s prison sentence for corruption just weeks after he was jailed, but a prior order for his remand in custody in the state secrets case prevented his release.

The latest extension of the remand order will keep Khan in jail until Sept. 26, lawyer Naeem Panjutha said in a post on X messaging platform.

In the state secrets case, Khan is charged with making public contents of a confidential cable sent by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States and using it for political gain, according to a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) document seen by Reuters.

Khan alleges that the cable proves the United States had pressed Pakistan’s military to orchestrate the fall of his government because he had visited Russia shortly before its invasion on Ukraine in February 2022.

Washington and the Pakistani military have denied Khan’s accusations.

In the corruption case, Khan was sentenced to three years in jail for unlawfully selling state gifts during his time as prime minister from 2018 to 2022. As a result, the election commission barred him from contesting elections for five years, and although the prison sentence was suspended last month the conviction still stands.

President Arif Alvi, of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party, on Wednesday suggested in a letter to the Election Commission that it seeks guidance from the judiciary on holding elections within 90 days of the dissolution of a government.

The elections should be held on Nov. 6, he said, according to a statement from his office. The commission had earlier announced that an election date was its decision, and that it could be delayed by some months due to the marking of new constituency boundaries as required by a new census.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)