The news of Imran Khan’s arrest has sparked protests across the country, with demonstrators expressing their discontent over what they perceive as an unjust arrest. The situation is likely to draw significant attention in the coming days, as Imran’s supporters and opposition voices weigh in on the implications of his latest legal setback.

The trial court handed down a three-year prison sentence and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on Imran Khan for concealing details of Toshakhana gifts, as per Section 174 of the Election Act.

Imran Khan is not the first former Pakistani prime minister to face imprisonment. The country has a series of unfortunate examples of how elected leaders have been treated throughout its history. From Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy to Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, several prime ministers have been arrested and, in some cases, even executed on contentious charges.

A History of Jailing Elected Prime Ministers

  • Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy:
    • Bengali politician from then East Pakistan.
    • Served as the fifth prime minister.
    • Arrested in January 1962 on bogus charges of “anti-state activities”.
    • His actual crime was refusing to support military ruler General Ayub Khan.
  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto:
    • Served as the ninth prime minister.
    • Arrested in 1974 on charges of conspiracy to murder a political opponent.
    • Sentenced to death and hanged on April 4, 1979.
  • Benazir Bhutto:
    • Served as the premier twice, from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996.
    • Arrested several times, first in 1985, and put under house arrest for 90 days.
    • Arrested in August 1986 for denouncing military dictator Ziaul Haq at a rally in Karachi.
    • Sentenced to five years imprisonment for corruption in April 1999.
    • Disqualified and fined over five million pounds.
    • Avoided arrest by being in self-exile.
  • Nawaz Sharif:
    • Arrested in 1999 after General Pervez Musharraf took over.
    • Exiled for 10 years.
    • Sentenced to 10 years in jail in July 2018 in a corruption case along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
    • Awarded seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case in December of the same year.
    • Went to London for treatment in 2019 and never returned to Pakistan.
  • Shahid Khaqan Abbasi:
    • Arrested in July 2019 in connection with a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) corruption case.
    • Later bailed out.
  • Imran Khan:
    • Arrested on May 9, 2023, in another corruption case.
    • Released after a couple of days following intervention by the Supreme Court.
    • Sentenced to three years in jail in the Toshakhana case on August 5, 2023.

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