The case is just the latest in a series of charges brought against the former prime minister by the government in a bid to prevent Khan from running again after he was ousted earlier this year.
“It’s a completely illegal decision and it has political reasons, no legal basis,” Fawad Chaudhry, a senior member of Khan’s party, told reporters after the decision.
Pakistani Imran Khan has granted a reprieve from his arrest for terrorism
The legal team plans to appeal the verdict to the High Court in Islamabad, Khan’s lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, told the Post.
“This decision cannot withstand any court and it will be overturned in no time. The case filed against Imran Khan cannot prove that he is untruthful and untrustworthy,” he said.
Demonstrations erupted after Friday’s verdict with hundreds of Khan supporters blocking one of the main highways leading to Islamabad, chanting “long live Imran Khan” and “down with the electoral commission”. Pakistani police responded with volleys of tear gas.
Similar protests also erupted in major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, where Khan’s supporters blocked roads and burned tyres.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari applauded Friday’s decision in a tweet saying Khan was “caught red-handed”, after spreading “lies about the alleged corruption of his political opponents”.
Zardari was referring to remarks made by Khan accusing members of the government of taking bribes and looting the national treasury.
After Khan was ousted from power by parliament this year, he staged a series of large, rowdy rallies that appear to have bolstered his public support. Pakistan is expected to hold national elections next year.
Pakistan’s current government has, in turn, struggled to tackle an economic crisis that began under Khan. The government has also been hit by record flooding that has displaced tens of millions of people. The consequences of the floods should only further cripple the economy of the impoverished country.