Imran Khan banned from public office over alleged gift scandal
The former prime minister's PTI party has just secured six seats in bi-elections, signifying his continued popularity and posing a setback to the ruling coalition
By News Desk - October 21 2022

(Photo credit: India Ahead)

The former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was banned from running from political office for five years on 21 October by the country’s Election Commission, sources told media, over his alleged mishandling of gifts and proceeds in the toshakhana.

The toshakhana is a Pakistani governmental department established in 1974 in order to store and keep an official record of gifts offered to the prime minister by foreign leaders and officials, essentially serving as a state treasury.

The five-year ban came as the result of Khan’s alleged violation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Pakistani constitution, as he was accused by the Election Commission of “not sharing details” of certain gifts meant for the toshakhana.

Among the gifts were a number of Rolex watches, a pair of cuff links, and a ring. Khan last month had admitted to selling some of these gifts while in office, claiming that he had included them in his income tax returns. According to Pakistani law, officials must declare all gifts, but may keep some below a certain value limit.

Moreover, Khan has previously clarified that some of the gifts were not made public due to specific national security concerns. Khan has denied all charges, and his legal team has challenged the accusation and vowed to fight the verdict at the high court.

On 4 August, Pakistani lawmakers belonging to a party within the country’s ruling alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), had initially filed a request for Khan to be banned from public office because of constitutional violations.

In response, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party announced nationwide demonstrations to protest the decision.

On 10 April, the Pakistani parliament ousted Khan in a successful no-confidence vote. Khan, a longstanding critic of western meddling and US imperialism, accused the opposition of conspiring with “foreign powers” to remove him from office because he would not comply with demands to stand against Russia and China.

The following day, PTI lawmakers handed in their resignations en masse, saying that they would not allow a government brought in by foreign intervention to take control of Pakistan.

In March, the former prime minister received a briefing letter from Islamabad’s ambassador to Washington, detailing the words of a senior US official saying they felt relations with Pakistan would be better if Khan “left office,” prompting suspicions that a US regime change project was in the making.

The year before, the PTI chief openly challenged the US after asserting that Pakistan would not allow its territory and airspace to be used for US operations against militants in Afghanistan, adding that he would not allow any US military bases in the country.

On 19 September, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dropped the “terrorism” charges against Khan that were filed the month before after he was accused of making “threats” against police and judicial officers during a massive rally in Islamabad. Khan’s lawyer referred to the charges as “trumped up” at the time.

Despite having been ousted, the former prime minister and cricket champion remains widely popular in Pakistan. Just a few days ago, Khan’s PTI party secured six seats during bi-elections in what has been described as a setback for the country’s ruling coalition.

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