Former prime minister Imran Khan has been banned for lying to Pakistan’s electoral commission about gifts he received from foreign officials. This is one of several legal lawsuits the former cricket star and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party are involved in. It adds a fresh twist to the political wrangling that has been going on since Khan’s expulsion in April. Gohar Khan, one of Imran Khan’s attorneys, said the ECP has disqualified him for five years for corruption.
The commission is involved because elected officials must report all assets. Mughal princely princes kept “treasure houses” to showcase gifts from their subjects. “Toshakhana,” is used to describe a government agency. Any gifts given to a government official must be reported, however those under a specific amount are exempt. Toshakhana must store more valuable things, but the recipient can buy them back at a discount of around 50% of their original value. Pakistani media have claimed for months that Khan and his wife received pricey gifts abroad. Included were high-end timepieces, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bracelets, designer purses, and colognes.
Khan is accused of not reporting income from the sale of goods he received. The Pakistan Democratic Movement, a coalition whose members now make up the government, filed the protest with the election commission when Khan was still in office.
The disqualification means that not only Imran Khan will be barred from contesting any election, he cannot hold the seat of PTI chairman. Similar to the fashion in which former Prime MInister, Nawaz sharif was convicted, Imran Khan has been declared guilty to an offense which to many seems unimportant. But if Imran Khan has truly broken the law, he is bound to face the penalty.
The consequences of the decision remain to be seen, but resentment among masses has already begun to show. Massive protest in all major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have been constructed. Police had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd. In the polarized political environment that Pakistan is currently in the government needs to be extra careful when dealing with angry mobs. Any stray bullet can quickly lead to widespread hooliganism.
Imran Khan can appeal the verdict firstly in High Court and then in Supreme Court. Although the verdict might damage his image slightly, his popularity remains high. The Netflix of Pakistan is far from over. If the past has taught has anything, Imran Khan is a fighter. All that needs to be seen is whether the people will still back him up.
For reading about the Hypocrisy in Pakistani politics, click here.