A court in Pakistan has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan to 10 years in prison just before the upcoming election.

A court in Pakistan has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan to 10 years in prison just before the upcoming election.

Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly leaking state secrets, a verdict that comes just days before the upcoming general election. The special court found Khan guilty of making public the contents of a confidential cable from Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington to the Islamabad government. This marks the harshest penalty faced by the popular cricket superstar, who was already sentenced to three years in August, rendering him ineligible for the February 8 election. The court is expected to release a written verdict soon, with Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), planning to challenge the ruling. Despite the conviction, PTI has not called for protests or demonstrations.

On the same day as Khan’s sentencing, a bomb blast in Pakistan’s Balochistan region killed three PTI members, though the responsible party remains unidentified. Khan’s aide, Zulfikar Bukhari, accused the legal team of being denied the chance to represent Khan or cross-examine witnesses during proceedings held in the high-security Adiala jail in Rawalpindi. Another of Khan’s lawyers, Ali Zafar, expressed confidence in overturning the case on appeal, citing the circumstances of the trial and sentencing.

The sentencing has raised concerns about the credibility of the upcoming election, adding complexity to Pakistan’s path to economic recovery under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund bailout. Khan, ousted from power in 2022, claims that the secret cable in question revealed a conspiracy by the Pakistani military and the U.S. government to topple his government in 2022. While these allegations are denied by Washington and the Pakistani military, Khan’s legal battles have intensified, and his party faces additional challenges, such as the loss of its election symbol and candidates contesting as independents.

Despite these hurdles, Khan’s message to supporters on social media encourages them to vote for candidates aligned with him and emphasizes peaceful participation in the electoral process. The sentencing adds further complexity to an already intricate political landscape in the lead-up to the election, with analysts questioning its impact on the polls’ credibility.

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