Ex-Prime Minister Sentenced to Prison for Corruption

Pakistan postpones elections after conviction of Imran Khan
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2023 4:40 PM CDT
Pakistan Convicts Khan of Corruption, Delays Elections
Imran Khan listen during a talk with reporters at his residence, in Lahore, Pakistan, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)

An opposition leader and former prime minister was sentenced to three years in prison Saturday after being convicted of corruption, a verdict that probably ends the possibility of Imran Khan running in the next election and deals a setback to Pakistan's efforts to solidify its democracy. Khan was arrested at his home in Lahore after the verdict was announced, the New York Times reports. The leader of the nation's largest opposition party, Khan had been mounting a political comeback after losing his office last year on a no-confidence vote in parliament. He denies the allegations against him, which involve selling gifts he received from other nations and hiding the proceeds.

Khan has blamed the military establishment for his ouster, and analysts say it has tried to intimidate his supporters. No prime minister has ever completed a five-year term; all have clashed with the military. The nation has often been under military rule but has had a democratically chosen government since 2008. The coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif praised the verdict and said it wasn't political persecution or intended to keep Khan out of the elections. "My message to Imran Khan is straightforward: Your time is up," Sharif's information minister said. A lawyer for Khan said he plans to appeal the verdict.

Those elections are now in doubt, after the government announced Saturday that they'll be postponed. The constitution calls for the vote be held by early November, but the date has been moved to around February. The reason given was to allow time to align the process with the recent census. There's concern that with the constitution being overridden, the delay could turn to to be much longer, per the Wall Street Journal. "The future of democracy is bleak," said Abid Saqi, a lawyer. "When the entire constitution has been put into slumber, I don't see elections in the near future." (More Pakistan stories.)

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