ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyers were on Monday attempting to launch legal challenges against his three year-sentence for graft that has ruled him out of contesting national elections.
The former international cricket star was arrested at his home on Saturday and taken to jail for charges he has previously said are politically motivated.
His lawyers have so far been denied access to him at Attock Jail, established 100 years ago on the outskirts of historical Attock City, around 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of the capital, Islamabad.
On Monday, petitions were being filed in Islamabad and Lahore High Courts demanding power of attorney for the jailed former leader, which would allow lawyers to challenge his conviction.
A petition has also been filed to request that Khan be held in an ‘A-class’ cell, more comfortable than other quarters and usually reserved for VIP inmates.
At a court hearing Khan did not attend Saturday, a judge found him guilty of graft in relation to gifts he received while prime minister and sentenced him to three years in jail.
Anyone convicted of a criminal offence is disqualified from contesting elections in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Sunday that parliament would likely be dissolved on Wednesday — days ahead of the end of its natural term.
This would give the incoming interim government until mid-November to hold an election, but there is already speculation it could be delayed following the release Saturday of the country’s latest census data.
Law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar told a local television channel that constituencies would have to be redrawn according to the new census, warning there could be a delay to polls of up to two and a half months.
Khan’s arrest and detention for three days in connection with the same case in May sparked deadly violence when his supporters took to the streets in the tens of thousands, clashing with police.
But a massive crackdown by the authorities that saw thousands of PTI supporters rounded up – some still in prison – and a muzzling of the press has vastly diminished his street power, even if his popularity remains high.