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Pakistan’s Ousted PM Imran Khan’s Won’t Be Able To Contest Election Despite Sentence Suspension: Report

Despite the Islamabad High Court's order, the 70-year-old chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party Imran Khan remains in Attock jail and cannot contest the upcoming general elections.

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan
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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's legal team made a significant mistake by not requesting the suspension of the trial court's August 5 judgment that led to his imprisonment in the Toshakhana corruption case, a leading advocate has said.

The country’s ousted prime minister remains in jail despite a higher court suspending his three-year-sentence.

Despite the Islamabad High Court's order, the 70-year-old chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party remains in Attock jail and cannot contest the upcoming general elections as his conviction and disqualification in the Toshakhana corruption case remain intact, according to legal experts.

Khan's legal team made a significant mistake by not requesting the suspension of the trial court's August 5 judgment, reported PTI.

They only requested the suspension of his sentence and his release on bail, Advocate Faisal Siddiqi commented, the report said.

"If a request had been made to suspend the trial court's judgment, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) would have extensively discussed the case's merits. Moreover, if the trial court's ruling had been suspended, Imran Khan could have contested the upcoming elections," Siddiqi was quoted as saying in the report.

A division bench comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri on Wednesday suspended Khan's sentence and ordered his release from the jail in Punjab province.

Commenting on the IHC’s short verdict, advocate Hafiz Ahsan Ahmed said that the verdict is not unusual or unprecedented as there were bright chances of suspension, the report mentioned.

“The verdict of suspension of sentence is never on the merit of the case. One of the grounds for the suspension might be the delay in the fixing of the main appeal in the high court for the hearing, whereas another ground is that the punishment is less than five years. In this case, it was three years,” Ahmed explained, the report mentioned.

The lawyer said that the cricketer-turned-politician's conviction and disqualification would remain intact, Geo News reported.

A trial court in Islamabad convicted and sentenced Khan to three years in prison on August 5.

Khan was sentenced on charges of unlawfully selling state gifts acquired by him and his family during his 2018-2022 tenure. He was also barred from politics for five years, preventing him from contesting an upcoming election.

According to noted advocate Faisal Siddiqi, Khan's legal team made a significant mistake by not requesting the suspension of the trial court's August 5 judgment.

They only requested the suspension of his sentence and his release on bail.

"If a request had been made to suspend the trial court's judgment, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) would have extensively discussed the case's merits. Moreover, if the trial court's ruling had been suspended, Imran could have contested the upcoming elections," Siddiqi explained.

General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly, which was prematurely dissolved on August 9.

However, the polls meant to be held within 90 days are likely to be delayed as the government has announced that the elections could take place only after a new census was completed and new constituency boundaries are drawn.

The exercise could take about four months to complete, meaning that polls may be delayed till next year.

The government's announcement had come on the same day when Khan was arrested after being sentenced to three years in prison for “corrupt practices".

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Advocate Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar said the suspension of sentences is routine in Pakistan's criminal justice system, particularly for cases with relatively brief jail terms, the report said.
 

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