Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan and his wife sentenced for 14 years in Toshakhana case

Wednesday’s sentencing is the third for the former prime minister of Pakistan who has alleged that he is being persecuted by the army and political class in response to pressure from the US

January 31, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders Imran Khan and Arif Alvi, during the 2018 electoral campaign. Photo: Wikimedia

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra have been sentenced to 14 years in jail by a lower court in Pakistan after he was found guilty in what is known as Toshakhana case on Wednesday January 31.

Toshakhana is where gifts received by state officials are kept. Imran and Bushra were found guilty of illegally selling a number of state gifts when Imran was the prime minister between 2018 and April 2022.

An accountability court in Rawalpindi also ruled that the couple would be ineligible to hold any public office for next 10 years.

The court also imposed a fine of 757 million rupees or USD 2.7 million on each of them.

The sentencing came a day after Khan and his party colleague and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years in prison in “cipher case” on Tuesday.

A special court had found Khan and Qureshi guilty of revealing confidential state documents. The document in question is a cable sent by the former Pakistani ambassador to the US in which he allegedly mentions the pressure applied by the US to remove Khan from office.

Citing the secret cable, Khan had alleged that the US wanted his removal from power through a no confidence vote in Pakistan’s parliament before the actual vote in April 2022 in which he lost the support of the majority. He claimed that the US did not like Pakistan asserting its independent foreign policy under his prime ministership during the Ukraine war crisis and his refusal to follow Washington’s line in general. The US denied Khan’s allegations.

He has also alleged that he and his party have been persecuted by the army and other powerful political classes after he revealed their dealings with the foreign powers.

Khan was first arrested in May 2023 but released after the Supreme Court’s intervention. He was arrested again in August 2023 after he was sentenced for three years in a case related to selling state gifts worth more than USD 500,000. The sentence was later suspended and Khan was granted bail. However, he remained in prison due to other cases.

The court has been hearing the cases against Khan inside the Adiala Jail where he is currently incarcerated. Khan is facing trial in over 150 different cases which were filed after he was removed from power.

Following his removal from power and arrest, Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has also faced a sweeping crackdown. The former PM is already disqualified for the next general elections scheduled to be held on February 8 along with several other candidates from his party which has attempted to appeal the ruling. Over the past year, several of PTI’s top leaders publicly resigned from the party, with many alleging it was in response to external pressures. PTI was also denied its electoral symbol, the cricket bat, by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on a technicality. Most of its candidates have been forced to contest as independents and many of them have alleged unfair treatment by the ECP.

In a statement on Wednesday, PTI called Imran’s conviction a complete denial of justice and destruction of rule of law in the country. Highlighting procedural violations, PTI’s official tweet post (on X) claimed that “like cipher this case has basis to stand in any higher court.”

PTI claimed that it will appeal the verdict in the higher judiciary.