Imran Khan listens to a member of media during talk with reporters regarding the current political situation at his residence in Lahore. File / AP
Imran was arrested at his Lahore home on Saturday and given a three-year jail sentence on charges of concealing assets. He is held at the high-security prison Attock in the eastern Punjab province while his legal team seeks his release.
His appeal hearing is underway, but the Islamabad High Court (IHC) gave Imran no immediate relief and he remains behind bars. The court said it seeks government response and would hear from the Election Commission of Pakistan's lawyers before deciding on Imran Khan's appeal.
The commission last year disqualified Imran Khan from holding public office for five years accusing him of unlawfully selling state gifts and concealing assets as premier. Imran Khan was notified of his disqualification again on Tuesday following his sentencing.
The court adjourned without setting a date for the following hearing, dealing a blow to Imran Khan's legal team.
Imran Khan's lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha (C) speaks to the media outside the Islamabad High Court building. AFP
Since his arrest, Imran met only once with one of his lawyers, Naeem Haider Panjutha, at the Attock prison. Panjutha along with other lawyers were present on Imran Khan's behalf in court on Wednesday while the ex-premier remained in prison.
Panjutha asked for the former premier's release, saying that Imran did not violate any laws and his arrest was illegal. Addressing reporters, he said, "we were not properly heard today.”
Imran Khan's lawyer had also asked on Monday for his transfer to a prison where there are special cells for under-trial and imprisoned politicians. Usually, high-profile personalities are kept at the Adiyala prison in Rawalpindi after their arrest.
Imran Khan — who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 but remains a popular figure in the country — has denied the charges.
This comes as Imran Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is set to dissolve parliament later on Wednesday after the completion of its term.
Shahbaz held his last cabinet meeting and said in televised comments he had faced multiple challenges, including the country's worst economic crisis and devastating floods which killed 1,739 people and caused $30 billion in damage in Pakistan in 2022.
Pakistan was able to negotiate a $3 billion bailout package with the International Monetary Fund, potentially saving the country from defaulting on its debt repayments. Later, Shahbaz addressed lawmakers in the National Assembly.
Though the dissolution could pave the way for parliamentary elections by mid-November, the government could delay the vote by several months if it decides to redraw constituencies based on recent census results.
Under Pakistan’s constitution, after Shahbaz steps down and the parliament is disbanded, a caretaker government is installed to run day-to-day affairs for 90 days until the next election. So far Sharif has not revealed who will become the caretaker prime minister.
Shahbaz Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League party is expected to face tough competition from Imran Khan’s party - though Imran Khan himself would be unable to take part unless he is granted an appeal is released from prison.
Under Pakistan’s laws, no convicted person is eligible to lead a party, run in elections, or hold public office.
The 70-year-old Imran Khan is being held in a so-called "C-class cell," sleeping on a mattress on the floor and with only enough room for a prayer mat. There is little access to daylight, and a fan but no air conditioner in the summer heat, lawyer Raoof Hasan said.
Antonio Guterres has "taken note of the ongoing protests that have erupted on the rest of former prime minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, and he calls for all parties to refrain from violence," his spokesperson Farhan Haq said.
Imran Khan, winner of the last election in 2018, remains in jail after being convicted in a graft case in August despite his three-year sentence being suspended by a court.
The verdict declared both petitions as “without merit” and were “accordingly dismissed.” “It is clarified that any observations [made in this judgment] are tentative in nature and shall not prejudice learned trial court during the trial,” the decision said.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed on Thursday, honoured the winners of the eighth edition of the "Thank You” Award for employees of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre.
European foreign ministers and UN agencies called for a ceasefire, with alarm rising over the worsening humanitarian crisis and potential starvation in the territory.
The weather on Sunday and Monday is expected to be partly cloudy to cloudy at times with a chance of drizzles to moderate and heavy rains at times on some areas, especially the northern, eastern and coastal ones, accompanied by a drop in temperature, especially in the west,..