Pakistan electoral symbols
January 30, 2024 - Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party has lost its cricket bat symbol ahead of general elections on February 8. Symbols are crucial to help voters with low literacy levels identify candidates.
Since being voted out of office in a no-confidence vote in April 2022, the cricket legend-turned-politician has been shot in the leg, hit with charges ranging from rioting to terrorism, and jailed for corruption.
Now, the nation’s most popular politician and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have been sentenced to 14 years in jail in a case related to the illegal sale of state gifts.
Wednesday’s verdict comes a day after a court convicted Khan of leaking state secrets and gave him a 10-year sentence.
The ban on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) election symbol, the cricket bat, sidelines its candidates, forcing them to contest as independents.
“The generals are telling the voter: don’t bother. Don’t bother turning up to vote for Imran because he will not be allowed near power again anytime soon,” political analyst Cyril Almeida told Al Jazeera.
“Whether the voters obey will be known next week. The charges are political, the conviction is political and, if and when the time comes, the reversal will be political,” Almeida added.