Pakistan court rejects Imran Khan appeal on disqualification

Pakistan's former premier Imran Khan appears at a court in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept 22, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD - A Pakistani court on Monday rejected a request by former premier Imran Khan to immediately suspend a decision by the Election Commission to disqualify him as a lawmaker after he was found guilty of hiding his assets. 

The Chief Justice of Islamabad’s High Court Athar Minallah gave the former cricket star three days to refile his appeal and then seek suspension of the order, local media reported. 

The judge, who wants Mr Khan to file the appeal with complete documents, said there is no need to immediately suspend the order as his disqualification covers the current tenure in Parliament and it does not bar him from contesting in future polls, Geo Television channel said. 

The commission is yet to release its full decision after Friday’s ruling, causing confusion on the term of the disqualification, Mr Khan’s party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said. Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar had said Mr Khan would be disqualified from participating in polls for five years, while Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said the disqualification covers his current Parliament seat. 

The mounting legal challenges against Mr Khan add to political uncertainty in a country reeling from dwindling foreign exchange reserves, widespread floods and high inflation.

Mr Khan is pushing forward with plans to call for a protest march to Islamabad this week as he seeks to pressure Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to call snap elections. 

The five-member panel of the election commission issued a short order on Friday stating that Mr Khan had committed “corrupt practices” by not disclosing money he had earned from selling gifts from various foreign dignitaries. Pakistani law does not bar lawmakers from selling such gifts but hiding these deals is illegal.

The government may file a criminal case against Mr Khan for giving a false statement to the Election Commission, Mr Tarar said last week.

A conviction in a criminal case carries a jail sentence and can bar Mr Khan from participating in politics or holding any public office. BLOOMBERG

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