Protests as ex-Pakistan PM Khan barred from political office

Multan, Pakistan, Oct 21 (EFE).- Pakistan’s Imran Khan was barred from political office until the current legislative session ends next summer after being found guilty of not declaring gifts he received from foreign dignitaries while serving as prime minister, the country’s election commission (ECP) said Friday in a move that sparked protests.

“The ECP de-seated (Khan) as member of the National Assembly and disqualified him for misdeclaration of assets,” ECP spokesperson Haroon Shinwari told Efe, adding that the ban would be in place until the next elections, which are slated for 2023.

The judgment, which was passed unanimously by the five-member board, will carry criminal consequences for the former premier, who in August was accused of falsifying the annual declaration that the prime minister and politicians must turn in annually to detail gifts they have received from foreign leaders and dignitaries.

Between 2018-21, Khan received 52 gifts worth some 142 million Pakistani rupees ($640,000), according to the case.

Initially reluctant to provide further details about the nature of the gifts, arguing that doing so would jeopardize international relations, Khan later admitted in a letter to the commission that he received 58 million rupees (about $260,000) from the sale of four of them.

Among the presents were luxury watches, highly valuable pens and rings.

As soon as the verdict was made public, the leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, Fawad Chaudry, called on the public to protest in the streets.

The PTI shared images on social media showing protests in the southern city of Karachi, and said tear gas had been used in the Faizabad area of the capital, Islamabad.

“Shameful acts by shameful government. Massive shelling by imported government cannot stop our supporters,” read a tweet on the party’s official Twitter page.

PTI lawmaker Saleh Muhammad Khan and his body guards were detained by police after the former allegedly fired shots outside the ECP headquarters, the Express Tribune reported.

Chaudry, speaking to reporters, said the ECP ruling was a “slap in the face of 220 million people” and accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, brother of the current PM Shehbaz Sharif, of orchestrating the decision.

Former cricketer Khan took office after winning elections in 2018 but was forced to step down in April this year following a no-confidence motion.

Since his removal from office, he has led a huge campaign against the current Sharif government.

The PTI party still wields clout in the country, as evidenced by its victory in the partial elections in Punjab in July, which was viewed as a popularity litmus test. EFE


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