ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said the country’s former premier Imran Khan does not face legal obstacles to contest the upcoming general elections and is likely to participate in them next year in February.
Khan, who has been in jail since August 5 following a conviction in a case involving the illegal sale of state gifts, faces several other cases which he deems “politically motivated” to exclude him from politics.
While his three-year sentence was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, he remains incarcerated on charges of leaking state secrets by revealing the contents of a confidential diplomatic cable which he says proves US involvement in toppling his administration, a claim consistently refuted by American officials.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party alleges a crackdown against its leaders as “pre-poll rigging,” but Kakar, in an exclusive interview with Independent Urdu published Wednesday, dismissed any “state coercion” against political parties.
“His party and up till now, he himself faces no legal restrictions that would keep him from contesting the elections. So, until the schedule is announced or something unforeseen happens which we are not aware of yet, during this conversation, then I can’t say anything. Till today, he is in the position of contesting, and he will contest.”
“There is no legal restriction on him [Khan] or his party that is keeping them away from the political or election process,” the prime minister said. “Until the [election] schedule is announced or something unforeseen happens which we are not aware of at the time of this conversation, then I can’t say anything. Until today, he is in the position of contesting [the polls], and he will contest.”
Khan has been disqualified from holding public office after he was found guilty of corrupt practices in the case in which he was given a three-year sentence. His legal team has appealed the verdict, though the final decision remains pending in the matter.
The former prime minister’s party has also complained about the “disappearance” of its leaders since the violent protests of May 9 when people holding PTI flags targeted government buildings and military installations after Khan was briefly arrested on graft charges.
When asked about the claims, Kakar said these leaders were actually going “underground” on their own to avoid arrests.
Many of them, he added, ultimately decided to quit PTI or politics altogether.
The prime minister described it as their personal decision while pointing out there was no evidence of “state coercion” in all those cases.