Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a 10-year prison sentence on Tuesday, less than two weeks before the country is set to vote in an election where his party is hindered from participating.
The verdict was pronounced within Adiala jail, where Khan has spent a considerable amount of time since his arrest in August. He claims to be entangled in a series of court cases orchestrated to prevent his political comeback.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the vice-president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and a former foreign minister under Khan, also received a 10-year sentence in the same case, according to a party spokesperson.
Imran Khan, who served as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, faced removal through a no-confidence vote, losing support from the military kingmakers. During his time as the opposition leader, he launched an unprecedented campaign against the military leadership, accusing them of orchestrating a US-backed conspiracy to oust him and plotting an assassination attempt that resulted in his injury.
Arrested briefly in May, Khan’s party, PTI, faced a crackdown, and many senior leaders defected or went underground. As the election approaches, PTI has been notably absent from the public sphere, losing its election symbol, and candidates being compelled to run as individuals.
In contrast, Nawaz Sharif, the head of a historically dominant dynastic party in Pakistan, has returned from self-imposed exile, and his convictions have dissolved in the courts. Meanwhile, a caretaker government, seen as pliable by the military establishment, has ruled Pakistan in the interim.