Former Pakistan PM alleges mistreatment in jail, urges supporters to ‘keep fighting’

Islamabad, Aug. 7 (EFE),- Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, arrested after being sentenced to three years over corruption charges, has urged his supporters and workers to keep fighting for the “real freedom” of the country, his lawyer said Monday after meeting him in a prison in Attock, southwest of capital Islamabad.

On Saturday, the former PM was sentenced to three years in jail in a case of misdeclaration of assets by a session court in Islamabad.

Khan told his main counsel Naeem Haider that the authorities have kept him in a C-class jail with no special facilities usually reserved for high-profile political prisoners – like air-conditioner, bed, table, chair, light, tv and newspaper – available to him.

He also complained about insects in the cell and not being given adequate food.

“There is an open washroom with no window, door, or wall. They are doing this just to break me,” the former PM told his lawyer.

“I will never bow down nor will accept slavery,” Khan was quoted as saying, insisting that he was fighting for the rule of law and the “real freedom” of the people.

Khan has been in the crosshairs of the Pakistani government and the powerful military since he was ousted in a no-confidence motion in April 2022 and alleged a foreign-backed conspiracy against himself.

Pakistan’s powerful military has directly or indirectly ruled the country for most of its independent history since 1947, and many analysts see the cricketer-turned-politician as the first leader to pose a real challenge to the military’s hold on the state and the masses.

Widespread protests and violence had broken out when the former PM was arrested on May 9 following several failed attempts by the authorities, with his supporters even attacking military barracks and residences of army officers. He was later released on an order by the Supreme Court.

The government subsequently cracked down hard on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, rounding up thousands of members, while several key leaders resigned under pressure.

After being ousted, Khan had claimed in interviews that although he was the prime minister from 2018 to 2022, the real decisions were taken somewhere else, indirectly referring to the military.

Khan has also survived an assassination attempt on him in November 2022 during an anti-government march, being shot in both legs in an attack he also blamed on Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Sunday’s verdict by an trial court in Islamabad is the first conviction against the former PM, who has faced dozens of cases in the past year since he was ousted in a vote of no confidence.

Specifically, Khan is accused of failing to declare gifts by not transferring them to a Pakistani government repository where items given to government officials by foreign dignitaries are stored.

The process began in October, when the Election Commission found Khan guilty of not declaring the proceeds from the sale of state gifts he had received as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 and requested criminal proceedings against the former PM.

Pakistan plans to hold elections later this year, after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday announced he would dissolve parliament on August 9, triggering a 90-day deadline for the polls .EFE


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