Pakistan election was 'biggest robbery', says ex-PM Imran Khan


  • World
  • Thursday, 30 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pauses as he speaks with Reuters during an interview, in Lahore, Pakistan March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Pakistan's jailed former prime minister Imran Khan said on Thursday February's national election was stolen from his party, describing it as the "biggest robbery of a public mandate".

Khan, speaking in the Supreme Court via video link from Adyala jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, said he was being held in solitary confinement.

His remarks were the first to be heard in open court since he was jailed in August.

"My party is being victimised. There have been gross human rights violations," Khan said. "The February 8 election was the biggest robbery of a public mandate."

The Election Commission has denied the election was rigged.

Khan, a 71-year-old cricketer-turned-politician, was jailed on corruption charges. He is also fighting dozens of other cases.

He and his Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf Party (PTI) say the charges were politically motivated to thwart his return to power.

Candidates backed by Khan won the most seats in February's election but fell short of a majority required to form a government. His opponent Shehbaz Sharif became prime minister in a coalition government with several other parties.

Khan was allowed by the top court to appear and plead petitions he had filed against amendments in the country's anti-graft laws, which he claims was made to favour corrupt politicians.

The court, however, turned down his request to live-stream the proceedings. It said it was not a public interest case, according to a Reuters reporter inside the court room.

Khan has previously been speaking to a select group of reporters who are allowed to cover his closed-door trials conducted inside the jail.

His aides have been conveying his messages after visiting him and his social media accounts remain active, but it is unclear who is operating them.

He has faced numerous cases since his ouster in 2022 in a parliamentary vote of confidence, which he alleged was backed by the powerful military after he had fallen out with the army generals.

The army denies the accusations.

(Reporting by Islamabad bureau; Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by YP Rajesh, Bernadette Baum and Nick Macfie)

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