ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – An Islamabad court on Wednesday rejected former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request to withdraw a key appeal so he could move it to a different court in the city of Lahore, his lawyer said, a possible setback in his efforts to overturn a decision set to prevent his running in elections next year.
Khan appealed last year in the Islamabad High Court against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) finding that he had unlawfully sold state gifts.
However, in January, Khan sought to withdraw that appeal so that another appeal at the Lahore High Court could proceed.
Khan’s lawyer Naeem Panjutha said the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday turned down Khan’s request to withdraw his appeal.
The ECP inquiry in 2022 found Khan unlawfully sold state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2019 to 2022. Khan has denied his behaviour was unlawful.
The Islamabad court has not yet released a decision on whether the ECP’s decision on Khan should be overturned.
Khan’s lawyers had sought to withdraw the Islamabad court appeal so a later appeal they saw as more likely to legally undermine his electoral disqualification could proceed in the Lahore High Court.
An Islamabad district court also convicted Khan over the sale of state gifts in August, resulting in his arrest. Khan has appealed the decision and a court later suspended his sentence but he remained imprisoned in a separate case.
The 70-year-old cricket hero-turned-politician has been embroiled in a string of court cases since he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of confidence last year after having fallen out with the powerful military.
Pakistan’s general election is set to take place on Feb. 8.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Mark Potter)