Lawyers for Pakistan’s convicted Imran Khan to meet him in jail

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Lawyers for Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan will be allowed to meet him on Monday before they file an appeal against a graft conviction that has landed the former cricket star in jail, one of his lawyers said.

Khan, 70, has been at the heart of political turmoil since he was ousted as prime minister in a vote of no confidence last year, raising concern about stability in the nuclear-armed country as it grapples with an economic crisis.

Police took Khan from his home in the city of Lahore on Saturday and transferred him to a jail in Attock district, near the capital Islamabad, where a court convicted him of graft charges arising from the sale of state gifts.

The conviction, which Khan rejects as politically motivated, likely means he will be disqualified from running in a general election due by November.

“The jail authorities have given us a time to meet Imran Khan at 12:30 p.m. (0730 GMT). We’ve reached Attock jail,” one of his lawyers, Naeem Panjhuta, said, adding that an appeal against the graft conviction would be filed after Khan completed paperwork.

Khan’s legal team is also appealing to authorities to secure him better conditions in jail, Panjhuta told reporters in Islamabad earlier.

He said Khan had been classified as “C-class” prisoner although by rights he should be allocated an “A-class” cell.

Political prisoners are entitled to better facilities, including television, newspapers and books.

“As per our information, Khan has been kept in C-class,” Panjhuta said.

A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for a comment.

Khan’s arrest was the latest in a series of blows that have weakened his political standing after he fell out with the powerful military and his party splintered.

Ever since his ouster, Khan has been campaigning for a snap election and organising protests, which led to significant violence on May 9, raising tension with the military.

Khan accuses the military and his political opponents of plotting against him to block him from the election. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history, denies that.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to call this week for the dissolution of parliament paving the way for a general election by November.

The political crisis has played out alongside an economic one.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund’s board approved a $3 billion bailout for Pakistan to help it tackle an acute balance of payments crisis and dire shortage of central bank reserves.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; editing by Robert Birsel)

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