Will Imran Khan forcibly retire or become PM: Will the stay on punishment lead to a return to politics, what will be the way forward?
Some good news came on Tuesday after many months in the life of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. The Islamabad High Court, while staying the sentence in the Toshakhana case, ruled to release him on bail.
Arrest, stay of sentence, bail and then custody…
The district court of Islamabad convicted Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case on 5 August 2023. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail and fined Rs 1 lakh. After this, Punjab Police arrested Imran from his Lahore residence and was put in Attock Jail. Imran appealed against this decision in Islamabad High Court.
After the hearing, on 29 August 2023, the Islamabad High Court stayed Imran’s sentence in the Toshakhana case. Chief Justice Amir Farooq while giving a brief judgment also ordered bail and said that the decision in detail would be issued later.
After Imran’s sentence was stayed, his supporters raised slogans outside the Islamabad High Court – Who will save Pakistan, Imran Khan-Imran Khan. Release-release, release Imran. His party PTI also tweeted its video.
Even before Imran could be released from jail, a special court in Islamabad issued an order to detain him in the cipher case and asked him to produce him in the court. After the hearing on 30 August, the special court sent Imran to judicial custody till 13 September.
Imran’s political future: There are big deceptions in this path…
Pakistan’s national elections are to be held in November. However, according to some media reports, this may be postponed by a few months, but the question is whether Imran will be able to become the PM of Pakistan once again by contesting elections in the coming days. Many legal experts have different opinions in this matter.
Barrister Asad Rahim told Pakistani newspaper Dawn, ‘Being found guilty means that you are guilty in the eyes of the law. Therefore, until acquittal is not given, it will be difficult to contest elections. It is worth noting that in the Toshakhana case, Islamabad High Court has only stayed the sentence and has not acquitted Imran.
Senior Pakistani lawyer Mian Dawood told Al Jazeera, ‘The decision is yet to be taken on the main appeal against Imran Khan’s three-year imprisonment. If Imran is completely acquitted, only then can he contest in the upcoming elections of Pakistan. It is noteworthy that the decision of Islamabad High Court can also be challenged in the Supreme Court.
Lawyer Shah Khawar told BBC, ‘If Imran’s release is implemented in the Toshakhana case, he will be arrested in other cases.’
It is noteworthy that after being out of power in April 2022, more than 100 cases are pending against Imran Khan.
Way forward: Court is Imran Khan’s last resort
The way forward for Imran Khan in politics is entirely dependent on the decisions of the higher courts. In the Toshakhana case, Imran’s lawyers allege that District Judge Humayun Dilawar gave the decision in a hurry. He deprived Imran Khan of his right to defence.
Imran’s lawyers had also appealed to the Supreme Court in the Toshakhana case. Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandial, head of the three-member bench of the Supreme Court, said that prima facie there were flaws in the trial court’s decision.
According to Gauhar Khan, one of Imran’s lawyers, arresting Imran in different cases is nothing but political revenge. He said that after the stay on sentencing in the Toshakhana case, bail in the remaining cases will be granted in a day or so.
However, the reality may be the opposite. Pakistani investigative agency FIA has to interrogate Khan in the Secret Cypher Gate scandal and National Accountability Bureau i.e. NAB has to interrogate Khan in the May 9 violence case. The NAB has the authority to hold Khan in jail for 90 days for questioning. No court, including the Supreme Court, will be able to grant him bail during this time.
Toshakhana case: hiding government gifts and selling them at high prices
• About two years ago, a Pakistani man named Abrar Khalid had filed an application in the Information Commission. Said: Imran needs to be made aware of the presents from other nations. Got the reply – Information about gifts cannot be given. Khalid also turned out to be stubborn. The Islamabad High Court received his petition.
• Imran was asked by the Islamabad High Court, “Why don’t you provide information about gifts?” ” “This is a threat to the safety of the country,” was the counsel for Khan’s reaction. Relations with other countries can get spoiled. Because of this, we are unable to educate the public about the presents from other nations.
• The Election Commission had filed a complaint in the district court that Imran Khan sold the gifts he received during his tenure as PM. He did not even give details of his assets in his declaration. The commission had demanded that Imran be punished through criminal laws.
• Toshakhana was established in Pakistan in 1974. Expensive gifts received by prominent government officials of the country are kept here. The things kept here can be sold only after cabinet approval.
• If the price of the gift is less than 30 thousand Pakistani rupees, then the person can keep it for free and if it is more than that, then it can be purchased by depositing 50%. These gifts usually include expensive watches, gold and diamond jewellery, precious decorative items, souvenirs, diamond studded pens, crockery and carpets.
• Imran claimed to have purchased all of these presents from Toshakhana for Rs 2.15 crore, which he later sold for Rs 5.8 crore. He had disclosed this to the Election Commission. Later, it was discovered that this sum exceeded 20 crores.
• After hearing in the same case, on 5 August 2023, the Islamabad Trial Court sentenced Imran Khan to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
Cypher Gate Scandal: Use of confidential government letters in rallies
• After the fall of the government in April last year, Imran continuously claimed that the Biden administration did not want to see him on the post of Prime Minister and the no-confidence motion was brought against him only at the behest of America. For this, a confidential letter was sent by the American State Department i.e. Foreign Ministry to the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan. In diplomatic terms this letter is called cipher.
• Imran’s involvement in the ‘Cypher Gate or Cable Gate or National Secret Gate’ case is believed to be certain. This is due to the fact that Azam Khan served as his Chief Secretary during his tenure as Prime Minister. Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has interrogated Azam twice. Azam has clearly said that he had given this cipher to Imran. Khan later claimed that it had been lost when Azam sought for it back from him.
• Imran Khan later waved the same cipher openly in many rallies. Khan said- This is the evidence which proves that my government was toppled by the army at the behest of America. Azam’s confession has made it clear that Imran will not be able to deny it even if he wants to. The special thing is that Azam has recorded his statement before the investigating agency and the magistrate. Signatures have also been done on its copy.
• Apart from this, an audio tape of Khan also went viral. It contained the voices of Imran, the then Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Azam Khan. Forensic investigation has proved that this audio is genuine, it was not tampered with. Khan says in the recording, “Now we will play with this cipher by showing it in rallies,” to Qureshi and Azam.