Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan will be disqualified from holding political office for five years, the Pakistan Electoral Commission (ECP) ruled on Friday.
While reading out the recommendations, ECP head Sikandar Sultan Raja said Mr Khan was disqualified for engaging in “corrupt practices”.
The commission said its decision was based on the grounds that Khan “made false statements” regarding declarations of the sale of gifts sent to him by the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Dubai during his tenure. It is an illegal offense under the country’s constitution.
Thousands of police lined up outside the Election Commission’s office in the capital Islamabad on Friday in anticipation of protests by Khan’s supporters. The Red Zone, where paramilitary forces are deployed throughout the city and houses key government buildings, including the Electoral Commission, is mostly closed to traffic.
At a press conference shortly after the announcement by the ECP, the leader of Khan’s party, Pakistan Teliku Einsaf (PTI), said he would take the matter to the Islamabad High Court, claiming the ECP’s decision was “biased.” I was. ”
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that this was “the beginning of a revolution” and called on supporters to “get out of their homes and take to the streets to support the constitution.”
The announcement makes it more likely that Khan will be unable to run in the next general election scheduled for 2023. CNN has reached out to Khan’s attorney for comment.
The committee’s decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for Khan, who was dramatically sacked in a no-confidence vote in April.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement political party, part of the country’s ruling coalition that ousted Khan from power, had called for a commission investigation.
But the cricketer-turned-populist leader maintains widespread popularity.
He has repeatedly claimed that his dismissal was the result of a US-led conspiracy against him. .
His arguments resonate with a young population in a country where anger and disillusionment with the political and military establishment are fueled by a rising cost of living crisis and the prevalence of anti-American sentiment.
The United States, the ruling coalition and the Pakistani military have all denied Khan’s allegations.
His enduring popularity has led his party to victory in recent local elections, and he has repeatedly called for new parliamentary votes at public rallies held after his dismissal.
Khan has repeatedly called for early elections and has said he will lead his supporters on a long march to Islamabad.