Just one day after former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was sentenced to a decade in prison for mishandling secure documents, another court slapped him and his wife, Bushra Bibi, with 14 years in jail for corruption.
The new conviction for Khan came from the Toshakhana case, named after the Pakistani agency in charge of regulating gifts for politicians. Khan and Bibi were accused of improperly keeping expensive foreign gifts and later selling some for cash, including $2 million in jewelry given to Khan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khan is already in prison, having been convicted on a previous Toshakhana allegation in August 2023. He has already been banned from running for office for five years — a prohibition extended to ten years by the new conviction. Khan and Bibi were additionally fined almost $3 million each.
Khan accused the court of rushing through proceedings to obtain a speedy conviction ahead of Pakistan’s elections, which are on February 8, 2024. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party is urging voters to turn out for the party slate to demonstrate their contempt for what they see as rigged legal proceedings against Khan, arguably the most popular political figure in Pakistan.
“Why are you in a hurry? Even yesterday, the conviction was announced in haste,” Khan mockingly asked the court, referring to Tuesday’s special court action against him for mishandling documents in the so-called Cipher Case.
Khan refused to remain in the courtroom on Wednesday, so he was convicted in absentia.
PTI denounced the court actions against Khan on Tuesday and Wednesday as the “complete destruction of every existing law in Pakistan in two days.”
The party said Wednesday’s corruption hearing was “yet another kangaroo trial in which no right to defense was given” to Khan or his wife.
“Like Cipher, this case has no basis to stand in any higher court. It’s shameful how a complete disregard and mockery of the law is in place,” PTI said.
PTI leader Gohan Ali Khan, who is also a lawyer, slammed the court for passing a sentence against Bibi, even though she had “no relation” to the Toshakhana case and none of the foreign gifts under scrutiny were registered to her. He said Bibi was only dragged into court “to bring Khan sahib under pressure.”
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) Party, on the other hand, celebrated Khan’s conviction as the downfall of a “certified Toshakhana thief in front of the world.”