Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan charged with contempt as legal and political struggles persist

Haider Panjutha, Khan’s lawyer, utilized social media platform X to convey that the Election Commission had indicted Imran Khan in the absence of lawyers.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing charges of contempt by the electoral commission, revealed his lawyer, Naeem, on Wednesday, 3rd January. The accusations are linked to derogatory remarks by Khan about the chief election commissioner.

The 71-year-old ex-cricket star has been embroiled in political and legal battles since his ousting as prime minister in April 2022. His public absence has persisted since August when he was sentenced to three years in jail for allegedly unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure from 2018 to 2022.

Haider Panjutha, Khan’s lawyer, utilized social media platform X to convey that the Election Commission had indicted Imran Khan in the absence of lawyers. Contempt proceedings were initiated by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against Khan and other former leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The ECP alleged that derogatory and contemptuous remarks against the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, coupled with the use of intemperate and insulting language, had been made by Khan and his colleagues.

Despite the mounting legal challenges, Khan, widely regarded as the country’s most popular leader, vehemently denies all charges. He asserts that the accusations are part of a concerted effort by the powerful military to hinder his political aspirations ahead of the upcoming elections, scheduled for next month. The military denies any involvement in such endeavours.

In a recent setback, a high court rejected Khan’s plea to suspend his disqualification from participating in the forthcoming elections. Simultaneously, a Pakistan court decided on Wednesday that Khan’s party, the PTI, would not be permitted to use its traditional election symbol—a cricket bat—in the February elections, according to Panjutha.

The electoral body had invalidated PTI’s intra-party elections in December, a crucial step for retaining the party’s election symbol. The PTI contested this decision in court and secured a stay order before the latest ruling to uphold the ECP’s earlier decision.

Despite these challenges, PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan affirmed on Wednesday that the party intends to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He emphasized that the PTI would not boycott the upcoming elections, underscoring the party’s determination to participate in the democratic process despite the legal hurdles.

Imran Khan’s legal entanglements continue to shape the political landscape, with the upcoming elections poised to be a critical juncture for both him and his party. As the legal battles unfold, the political dynamics in Pakistan remain tense and unpredictable.