Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has been banned over a ‘gifts case’.
Pakistan’s elections commission on Friday disqualified former Prime Minister Imran Khan on charges of concealing assets. According to the ruling, the PTI chairman won’t be able to run for political office for the next five years and also cannot become a member of the parliament during the same period. The latest decision comes months after the parliament ousted Khan through a no-confidence vote.
The election body on Friday said in its statement that Khan committed “corrupt practice” and didn’t disclose to authorities the money he earned from selling gifts given to him by various visiting foreign dignitaries, report Geo TV. Pakistani law does not bar lawmakers from selling such gifts but hiding the transactions is illegal.
According to legal experts, Khan will lose his seat in the National Assembly under the verdict of the Election Commission. And, if the court endorses the ruling it would be an abrupt end to his often turbulent political career that began when he elected to parliament in 2002.
What were the accusations against Imran Khan?
The ruling coalition government lawmakers had filed a case with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in August against 70-year-old Khan seeking his disqualification for failing to reveal the proceeds from the sale of gifts that he purchased at a discounted price from the state repository, also called Toshakhana.
The ECP after hearing the case had reserved its judgment on September 19 on the conclusion of the proceedings.
The four-member bench of the ECP, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, on Friday unanimously ruled that Khan was involved in corrupt practices and was disqualified as a member of the parliament.
How PTI reacted to the ruling?
The move is likely to deepen lingering political turmoil in the country. Fawad Chaudhry, another PTI leader, rejected the verdict and asked Khan’s followers to stage protests.
Khan had already warned that he will lead his supporters in a march to capital Islamabad to push his demand for early elections.
The cricketer-turned-politician has been on streets for past six months calling for early elections and targeting state institutions including powerful army, claiming, without proof that it colluded with the US and his political opponents led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to oust him in April. All reject the allegation.
Khan is currently flush from a sweeping victory in recent by-polls where he won six out of seven seats he personally contested in a display of his popular appeal. The former cricket star has been holding packed public rallies across Pakistan.