How Imran Khan’s Conviction Will Influence Pakistan Elections

Imran Khan’s absence has already left his party in disarray. (File)

Karachi:

Pakistan – Former Pakistani Prime Minister and cricket star Imran Khan was jailed for 14 years on Wednesday on charges of illegally selling state gifts, a day after he received a 10-year sentence for leaking state secrets.

The convictions come days before a national election scheduled for Feb. 8.

Here are some facts on how these sentences influence his political future, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, and the upcoming election:

– Imran Khan, 71, was already barred from holding public office for five years following an earlier graft conviction, which ruled him out of next week’s polls.

– Wednesday’s sentence extends that ban on Imran Khan from holding public office to 10 years, which means he could not be Prime Minister again until 2034.

– The convictions also mean Imran Khan, in jail since August, will not be able to come out of jail to campaign for his party’s candidates in the election.

– Imran Khan’s absence has already left his party in disarray, with many key aides jailed, on the run, or having abandoned him in the face of a spate of legal challenges.

– There are a number of candidates backed by Imran Khan and his party that are contesting next week’s election, but there are no big political names to carry his party in his absence.

– Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is temporarily being led by a little-known lawyer, Gohar Ali Khan, who is also Imran Khan’s legal counsel.

– On Jan. 14, Imran Khan’s party was stripped of its traditional electoral symbol of a cricket bat in a court ruling, which means his candidates are contesting as independents.

– Even if Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed candidates win, as independents they are not bound to stay with the party and are open to joining other parties – and Imran Khan remaining in jail for the foreseeable future increases the chances of this.

– The support of victorious independent candidates in the aftermath of the polls will be crucial for any party vying to secure the numbers necessary in parliament to form a government.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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