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“Imran Khan arrest in Toshakhana case: US calls it internal matter”

News Desk

WASHINGTON: The United States has declared that the cases against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and other politicians are Pakistan’s internal matters.

“The cases against Imran Khan and other politicians in Pakistan are an internal matter,” the State Department said via email in response to a question sent to it by The News.

“We call for the respect of democratic principles and the rule of law in Pakistan, as we do around the world,” the department said, which has time and again also termed Khan’s claims of the US ousting his government as “baseless”.

The former prime minister was sent to jail for three years Saturday after a court in the capital found him guilty of graft in the Toshakhana case, a move likely to bar him from standing in elections due later this year.

Anyone convicted of a criminal offence is disqualified from contesting elections in Pakistan, and parliament is likely to be dissolved in the next two weeks before it completes its term, with a national vote to be held by later this year or early next year.

“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” judge Humayun Dilawar wrote in the ruling seen for a case centred on gifts he received and did not properly declare while he was premier.

“He has been found guilty of corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from national exchequer willfully and intentionally.”

After he was taken away by police Saturday, a video statement Khan made before his arrest was posted to his X account with him calling for his supporters to protest.

“My fellow Pakistanis, they will have arrested me and I’ll be in jail by the time this message reaches you. I have just one request and appeal, that you are not to sit silently at home,” he said.

“This is a war for justice, for your rights, for your freedom… chains don’t just fall off, they have to be broken. You must continue peaceful protest until you get your rights.”

Khan, 70, has faced a slew of court cases on charges he says are politically motivated since being ousted in a vote of no confidence last year, and was not present when he was sentenced Saturday.

The judge also fined him 100,000 rupees (around $350).

Soon after the ruling, police entered his home in Lahore and took him away.

“A thief has been arrested today,” government Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters.

Khan spent the night at a jail in Attock, a historical fort city around 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Islamabad.

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