Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan has been banned from voting for five years

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan has been banned from voting for five years


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was banned from running for political office for five years on Friday after the country’s electoral commission ruled that he had misled officials about gifts he received from foreign leaders during his tenure.

The decision is another twist in the political row that began before Khan’s ouster in April and is one of several legal battles being fought by the former international cricket star and his Pakistani party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“The ECP (Electoral Commission of Pakistan) has stated that Imran Khan was engaged in corrupt practices,” Gohar Khan, one of his lawyers, told reporters, adding that he had been disqualified for five years.

“We will now challenge it in the Islamabad Supreme Court.”

Pakistan’s courts are often used to embroil lawmakers in lengthy court cases that criticize human rights monitors for stifling political opposition, but the commission’s involvement in this case stems from the obligation on elected officials to disclose all their assets.

The case revolves around a government agency known as “Toshakhana,” which during the Mughal period referred to the “treasure houses” kept by the princely rulers of the subcontinent to house and display gifts they were lavished on.

Government officials must declare all gifts, but may hold them below a certain value.

More expensive items must go to Toshakhana, but in some cases the recipient can buy them back at around 50 percent of their value – a discount Khan raised from 20 percent during his tenure.

Pakistani newspapers have been running lurid stories for months claiming that Khan and his wife received millions of dollars in lavish gifts while traveling abroad.

These included luxury watches, jewellery, designer handbags and perfumes.

Khan is accused of not declaring some gifts or the profit made from them.

The complaint to the Electoral Commission was first made by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a coalition whose members now form the government, when Khan was in office.

At the time, Khan said he didn’t make some gifts public for national security reasons, but admitted in a written filing he bought items worth nearly 22 million rupees ($100,000) and later sold them for more than double that amount to have.

He says the assessment was done through the right channels.

This week, Khan won six out of eight seats in the National Assembly he was running for in a by-election over the weekend, a vote he described as a referendum on his popularity.

Individuals can run in multiple constituencies in Pakistan’s elections and choose which one to give up if they win more than one, but it is rare for a candidate to contest as many as Khan.

The 70-year-old has sought to disrupt Pakistan’s political process since his ouster in April, when he ordered all of its lawmakers to give up their seats, leaving no PTI members in the National Assembly.

He has also vowed to soon announce the date of a “long march” by his supporters to the capital to put pressure on the government to announce earlier national elections than those scheduled for October next year.

Khan regularly holds rallies attended by tens of thousands across the country and delivers fiery speeches criticizing state institutions – including the powerful military – for allegedly conspiring to overthrow his government.

He rode to power in 2018 on a populist platform that promised social reform, religious conservatism and a fight against corruption, overthrowing decades-long rule of two feuding political dynasties riddled with military takeovers.

But under his tenure, the economy stagnated and he lost support from the army, which has been accused of helping to get him elected.

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