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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrested

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) leaves after appearing in the Supreme Court in Islamabad on July 26, 2023. PHOTO/AFP

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan was arrested at his home in Lahore Saturday, police and officials said, after a court in the capital found him guilty of graft and sentenced him to three years in jail.

The former international cricket star has faced a slew of court cases on charges he says are politically motivated since being ousted in a vote of no confidence last year, and was not present when he was sentenced Saturday.

“Judge Humayun Dilawar announced that involvement in corrupt practices has been proven,” Pakistan TV reported.

Soon after the ruling, police entered his home in Lahore and arrested him.

“I have just received the information that Imran Khan has been arrested,” Attaullah Tarar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, told reporters.

In May, Khan was arrested and briefly detained on graft charges in Islamabad, sparking deadly unrest during which supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party poured onto the streets and clashed with police.

In the aftermath of his release following three days in custody, PTI has been targeted by a crackdown with thousands of arrests, reports of intimidation and muzzling of the press.

The case that led to his arrest Saturday centres on gifts he received and did not properly declare while he was premier.

Khan’s legal team said they would be filing an immediate appeal.

“It’s important to mention there was no chance given to present witnesses, neither was time allotted to round up arguments,” a member of the team said.

Khan has long warned he would be arrested to prevent him participating in elections that are due to be held before the end of the year.

Parliament is likely to be dissolved after it completes its term in the next two weeks, with national elections to be held by mid-November or earlier.

Khan rose to power in 2018 on a wave of popular support, an anti-corruption manifesto, and the backing of the powerful military establishment.

When he was ousted in April last year, analysts said it was because he lost the backing of the top generals.

In his campaign for re-election, Khan has highlighted the power the top brass wield behind the scenes — a subject historically considered a red line in Pakistan.

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