Pakistan: Election Commission Bars Khan From Office

On Friday, Pakistan's elections commission ruled that former Prime Minister Imran Khan is disqualified from holding public office for five years, as he was accused of unlawfully selling state gifts and concealing the profits. The ruling is expected to deepen political unrest.

Pakistan: Election Commission Bars Khan From Office
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via NBC News]

Facts

  • On Friday, Pakistan's elections commission ruled that former Prime Minister Imran Khan is disqualified from holding public office for five years, as he was accused of unlawfully selling state gifts and concealing the profits. The ruling is expected to deepen political unrest.
  • The former PM is said to have misused his premiership between 2018-2022 by buying and selling gifts given to the state during official visits abroad. The gifts, allegedly worth more than 140M rupees ($635K), included watches given by a royal family and allegedly later sold in Dubai.
  • This means that Khan must cease to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat is now vacant. The decision, unanimously delivered by a five-member commission, is a devastating setback for the popular Khan.
  • Leaders of Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI), claim the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was "biased" in its decision and plan to escalate the matter to the Islamabad High Court.
  • Disqualifying Khan adds fuel to the political and economic turmoil in the country. Earlier this year, when Khan was removed from power, his supporters flooded the streets in protest.
  • Pakistani legal experts suggested that troubles for the PTI chief will continue in the coming days: "The ECP [Pakistan’s election commission] in the verdict has sent the case to a trial court. However, if Khan is found guilty of corrupt practices in court, he could be imprisoned for [a] maximum of three years."

Sources: NBC, Reuters, BBC News, CNN, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Friday Times. Pakistan's Election Commission is demonstrating its overreach with this ruling. This decision is a slap in the face to 220M Khan supporters and the widespread street protests show it. The PTI will not stand for this and is already preparing its legal appeal to challenge the ruling in court. A democratic system in Pakistan without Imran Khan will not happen.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Dawn. Imran Khan and his entire party are fraudsters and the Sharif-led government will continue to show Khan's true face to the people. During his time in office, he did nothing but attack the army and create divisions. Khan's actions have been appalling, and groups protecting him should be tried for treason.