Shah Mehmood Qureshi (L), vice chairman of opposition party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf sits with Shoaib Shaheen (C) and Naeem Haider Panjutha, lawyers of former Prime Minister and PTI head Imran Khan, during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, 07 August 2023. EFE/EPA/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan challenges conviction in court

Islamabad, Aug 8 (EFE).- Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, on Tuesday challenged his three-year jail term for corruption, which also disqualified him from running for public office for five years, his party said.

Following his conviction, Khan was arrested from his Lahore residence during the weekend and imprisoned in a jail in Punjab’s Attock city, some 84 km south of Islamabad.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said the petition challenging the verdict was filed in the Islamabad High court.

Khan has been jailed for three years on charges of not disclosing the money he earned from selling state gifts during his tenure as premier from 2018 to 2022.

The petition reads that “the impugned order is not sustainable and is liable to be set aside” by the court the appeal was filed to.

On Monday, Khan’s lawyers claimed he was facing mistreatment at the jail, where he was provided with a very small room with no proper facilities.

Khan told his main counsel Naeem Haider that the authorities have kept him in a C-class jail with no special facilities usually reserved for high-profile political prisoners – like air-conditioner, bed, table, chair, light, tv and newspaper – available to him.

He also complained about insects in the cell and not being given adequate food.

“There is an open washroom with no window, door, or wall. They are doing this just to break me,” the former PM told his lawyer.

Another petition requesting to provide A-class jail to Khan has also been filed in the court by his lawyers.

Khan has been in the crosshairs of the Pakistani government and the powerful military since he was ousted in a no-confidence motion in April 2022 and alleged a foreign-backed conspiracy against himself.

Pakistan’s powerful military has directly or indirectly ruled the country for most of its independent history since 1947, and many analysts see the cricketer-turned-politician as the first leader to pose a real challenge to the military’s hold on the state and the masses.

Widespread protests and violence had broken out when the former PM was arrested on May 9 following several failed attempts by the authorities, with his supporters even attacking military barracks and residences of army officers. He was later released on an order by the Supreme Court.

The government subsequently cracked down hard on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, rounding up thousands of members, while several key leaders resigned under pressure.

After being ousted, Khan had claimed in interviews that although he was the prime minister from 2018 to 2022, the real decisions were taken somewhere else, indirectly referring to the military.

Khan has also survived an assassination attempt on him in November 2022 during an anti-government march, being shot in both legs in an attack he also blamed on Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Pakistan plans to hold elections later this year, after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday announced he would dissolve parliament on August 9, triggering a 90-day deadline for the polls. EFE