A Pakistani appeals court on Tuesday suspended Imran Khan’s conviction of corruption and three years in prison, his lawyers and court officials said. The court’s ruling was a legal victory for the wildly popular former prime minister.
Although he will face a retrial in due course, the ruling will allow Khan, 70, to stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Khan has denied the accusations against him, and insisted he had not broken any rules.
The Islamabad High Court also issued a ruling releasing Khan on bail, but it is not yet clear whether he will be released soon as he still faces a slew of other charges filed since his ouster via a no-confidence motion in parliament in April 2022.
Khan’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen said the Islamabad High Court issued a brief verbal order and a written decision would be issued at a later date. Khan was found guilty and sentenced earlier this month by a court that ruled he concealed assets after selling state gifts he received while in office.
“Imran Khan is again eligible to lead the Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Pakistan by virtue of today’s court order,” Babar Awan, another senior lawyer for Khan, told reporters after the announcement of the decision.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Election Commission had disqualified Khan from running for five years. Under Pakistani law, no convict has the right to lead a party, run for election or hold public office.
Since his ouster, Khan has said his ouster was a conspiracy by the United States, his successor Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan’s military – allegations they all deny. Sharif stepped down this month after his parliamentary term expired. Meanwhile, Pakistan is facing increasingly severe economic and political turmoil.
The upcoming polls have been complicated by an announcement from the election monitoring body that the election should be postponed for at least three to four months as more time is needed to redraw constituencies to match the recently conducted census.
Under the constitution, a vote will be held in October or November. Until then, acting Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar went about day-to-day affairs. Kakar said that he would ensure the vote was held in a free, fair and transparent manner. (ab/uh)