Amer Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at his residence in Lahore on March 15, 2023.
Pakistan Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges, his Pakistan Tehrir-e-Insaf party announced on Wednesday, in the second legal blow the embattled politician faces this week.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) convicted Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi in a case related to the illegal sale of state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.
Khan, who has been imprisoned since August on several charges, has also been banned from holding office for 10 years, the agency said. The party added that Bibi was taken into police custody shortly after the ruling was issued.
Wednesday's ruling comes nearly a week before the general elections expected on February 8 and just one day after Khan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets. He will be allowed to serve his sentence concurrently.
Many analysts view the upcoming elections in Pakistan as one of the least credible elections in the country's nearly 77-year history, due to the military campaign launched by the army against Khan and his aides.
Khan retains widespread popularity among Pakistan's largely young voters, who view him as a clear break from the political dynasties or military establishments that have ruled the South Asian nation for much of its independent history.
The former cricket star-turned-politician rose to power on an anti-corruption ticket in 2018, but has been embroiled in political controversy since being dramatically ousted in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April 2022.
That moment paved the way for a months-long standoff between Khan and the powerful military, which he accused of orchestrating his removal. The army denies Khan's accusations.
Khan was one of the few politicians to challenge Pakistan's army generals, attracting tens of thousands to rallies across the country that have become a staple of Pakistan's turbulent political landscape, with public anger reverberating across the country against the ruling regime.
In response, the military responded by launching a massive crackdown on Khan and members of his party, intimidating many into silence, preventing them from leaving the country, and arresting others on various charges.
PTI has been banned from using the famous cricket bat symbol on ballot papers and television stations He was banned from conducting Khan's speeches.
“Another sad day in the history of our judicial system, which is being dismantled,” PTI said of Wednesday's ruling, adding that “this ridiculous decision will also be appealed.”
Khan was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from holding any office for five years last August in the same case by the Election Commission of Pakistan. This conviction was later suspended.
He confirms that the charges against him are politically motivated, which the authorities deny.
This story has been updated.
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