ISLAMABAD – A court in Pakistan observed on Monday that foremr Prime Minister Imran Khan was not barred from contesting elections in the future as it heard the disqualification case of PTI chairman by the country’s top election body.
Khan, 70, was disqualified on Friday by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana case allegedly for hiding his assets. The next day, he challenged the verdict in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Chief Justice of the IHC Athar Minallah observed that Khan had not been barred from contesting in future elections and was eligible to contest in the Kurram district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on October 30.
“Imran Khan is not disqualified for that election…There should be one standard for all. There is no need to rush in this case,” the IHC chief justice said when Khan’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar pressed to start the hearing despite administrative objections by the IHC registrar.
The Court would hear the petition once the objections were removed, the judge said as he also refused to issue a stay order on the ECP verdict.
He also directed the counsel to remove the objections on the petition within three days.
The observation came as there was confusion over the duration of the disqualification of Khan with some saying that he was barred from contesting elections for five years.
The ECP decision came after Khan failed to disclose the proceeds of the sale of state gifts that he purchased from the Toshakhana, which is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to high state functionaries.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.