Pakistan’s former Prime Minister arrested after serving prison sentence: NPR
Police in Pakistan have arrested the former Prime Minister of that country, Imran Khan, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for hiding assets.
SCOTT SIMON, Host:
There is a new tension in Pakistan after the arrest and detention of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. This comes ahead of elections in Pakistan, where Mr Khan is expected to play a leading role. NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports.
DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan shared videos of a convoy of blaming vehicles taking the leader away. Khan was arrested after he was found guilty of concealing the details of the gifts he had received from foreign dignitaries, gifts that were to be given to the state. He was sentenced to three years in prison. This was one of dozens of cases filed against Khan after he was ousted from power in April last year. This happened after his relationship soured with the most powerful institution in Pakistan – the army. Tensions have not increased since then.
HADID: Paramilitary forces briefly arrested Khan in May, prompting his followers to destroy military bases. That sparked a widespread rift that splintered Khan’s party.
ARIFA NOOR: This was inevitable. Everyone knew this was coming.
HADID: Arifa Noor is a columnist with the newspaper Dawn. She says Khan still appears to enjoy widespread support among Pakistanis, and his arrest appears to have been intended to ensure he cannot contest elections. They are expected in the coming months.
NOOR: The plan was to imprison Imran Khan around the time of the elections so that he cannot campaign; he cannot move his supporters.
HADID: In a video uploaded to social media by Khan’s media team before it was removed, the former prime minister called on his followers to protest against his detention and for the right to a fair election.
(Audio from archive recording)
IMRAN KHAN: (Speaking in a language other than English).
HADID: He says, “this is a war for justice, for your rights, for your freedom.” There was no immediate comment from the government or the military. One of Khan’s lawyers, Babar Awan, says they will appeal against the court’s decision on Monday. He said, unlike other Pakistani civilian leaders who fled into exile to escape persecution, Khan is staying put.
BABAR AWAN: There is no question of leaving a country.
HADID: Noor, the columnist, says a consistent feature of Pakistani politics is that leaders are persecuted when they fall out of favor. The differences now – the economy is in dire straits, and people are angry. But whether they will stand up to authorities, who have cracked down on Khan’s supporters in the past, is another matter. Diaa Hadid, NPR News.
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