PTI supporters clash with police in Pakistan
Supporters of Imran Khan clash with police outside the former prime minister’s residence in Lahore, Pakistan © Rahat Dar/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In 2022, after just four years in office, political opponents forcibly removed Imran Khan as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

After being ousted by a vote of no-confidence, Khan was accused of corruption.

The ex-leader, who led Pakistan to the Cricket World Cup victory in 1992, has since been serving a three-year jail term after he was convicted of illegally selling state gifts.

After an ongoing investigation into Khan's alleged corruption, it was announced on Tuesday that both ex-Prime Minister Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Khan was appointed Prime Minister, Qureshi acted as the Vice Chairman of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI).

The pair were sentenced to a decade of imprisonment by the special court after they were accused of sharing state secrets.

The special court refers to the court that was set up inside the Rawalpindi Central Jail in Pakistan's Punjab region, where Khan is already serving his three-year stint.

The case refers to the alleged leaking of secret diplomatic correspondence that was sent by the Ambassador for Pakistan in Washington to Islamabad while Khan was in office as Prime Minister.

The prosecution claimed that Khan's behaviour amounted to damaging international and diplomatic relations and leaking a classified document.

While appearing at a rally in March 2022, a month before his diplomatic demise, Khan took to the stage to address his followers. The former Prime Minister waved a piece of paper to the audience, telling them it was evidence that proved there was a foreign conspiracy against him.

Although Khan did not clarify which country the note came from, according to the former Pakistan Leader, the piece of paper said that "all will be forgiven if Imran Khan is removed from power".

While on stage at the rally, reports also recall how the former Prime Minister was highly critical of the US.

The court said that due to the severity of the charges, Khan could face life imprisonment or the death penalty at a later date.

The former PTI Leader called the convictions politically motivated and referenced the general election, from which Khan has been banned, taking place next week on February 8.

The PTI party, which has also been banned from standing at the next general campaign by the authorities, also called the special court ruling a mockery and told the ex-Prime Minister that they would challenge the 10-year sentence.

Last week, prior to Khan's further imprisonment announcement, police officers fired tear gas at a large group of demonstrators.

Dozens of people were also arrested.

On Sunday 28 January the rally broke out in Karachi, a city located in the southern Sindh province of Pakistan, in support of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

While the demonstration made it clear that Khan is a popular character amongst many members of Pakistan's public, the march also set out to protest the PTI party being banned from being a candidate in the 2024 election.

Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, a spokesperson for the PTI party told reporters that the trial was conducted in an "unlawful manner", further noting: "Our lawyers were not allowed to represent Imran Khan. They were not even allowed to cross-examine the witnesses."

"What was unfolding in the court was merely a charade and a sham," Bukhari added.

Also blaming Khan's conviction on political motivation, the PTI spokesperson went on to say: "With the sentence coming at a time when elections are less than 10 days away, it will only motivate our supporters and help them come out in droves. It looks like the authorities want to suppress the PTI and its voter base, but their acts will only drive us to vote in bigger numbers."