8 former prime ministers, 2 presidents arrested or convicted so far

Most recent such example is the PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan

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(L to R) Former prime ministers Imran Khan, Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif. — Reuters and social media
(L to R) Former prime ministers Imran Khan, Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif. — Reuters and social media

LAHORE: During the last 65 years, eight former prime ministers and two ex-presidents of Pakistan have so far either been arrested, convicted, or faced arrest warrants in different cases — mostly made by the then-sitting governments.

The most recent such example is the PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, who was arrested after a court awarded three years sentence to him in a case related to Toshakhana.

Before him, the former prime ministers of the country including Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Shehbaz Sharif and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were either arrested, convicted or faced arrest warrants. Every time, the political parties and supporters of these politicians have termed their arrests a part of victimisation by the then-sitting government.

The first former PM of Pakistan who got arrested was Suhrawardy who was taken into custody after the then-president General Ayub Khan implemented Election Bodies Disqualification Orders (EBDO).

Under these orders, a number of leaders from East Pakistan were arrested and Suhrawardy was one of them.

The second to face arrest was the PPP founder and first elected prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On July 5, the then-army chief General Zia ul Haq dethroned Bhutto and imposed martial law in the country.

Bhutto was tried in the case related to Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan and was finally executed on April 4, 1979.

The decade of 90s later saw high bitterness between two top political leaders of Pakistan including PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and PML-N head Nawaz Sharif, both of whom served as PM while Ishaq Khan was president, who dismissed both governments while exercising 58-2b.

Benazir faced brief arrest during the 1992 long march while she was leading the opposition towards Islamabad against the government led by Nawaz.

However, the real test came for her after her second tenure as PM between 1993-1996.

When her government was dismissed by then-president Leghari in September 1996 through 58-2(b), the next government that come to power was led by Nawaz who got elected as PM again.

Under his government, a process of strict accountability started and first Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of Benazir and a sitting senator was arrested.

Later, warrants were issued for the arrest of Benazir who was often seen appearing before courts with her children. She left Pakistan later and in October 1999, Nawaz, himself got arrested by the then-army chief General Pervez Musharraf, who first became the chief executive of the country and later became the president.

Nawaz had to spend around seven months in imprisonment after which, through a deal, he along with his family left Pakistan and settled in Jeddah. He returned in November 2007 while Musharraf had doffed uniform.

In the Musharraf era, former speaker of the National Assembly Gilani was also arrested and spent around five years in imprisonment.

Gilani became the PM of the country in 2008 and in 2013, he was disqualified for five years and also awarded a penalty for a few minutes that meant conviction.

So, being a former PM, he also joined the list of convicted premiers.

In 2013, the-prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also faced arrest warrants over a corruption case, however, his arrest was not done. Later, in 2017, Nawaz, who became prime minister for the third time in the history of the country was convicted by court and lost office.

He faced arrest till 2019 after which through a guarantee, he was allowed to travel to London.

Abbasi, who became PM in 2017 was arrested by NAB in the PTI era and remained in custody for more than a year.

Zardari, the president between 2008 to 2013, was also arrested by NAB during the PTI tenure.

His father-in-law, Bhutto also served as president between 1971 to 1973. In this way, Bhutto was the first former president who got arrested and Zardari was the second former president to face arrest. Now, the PTI chairman who served as PM for three years is also facing imprisonment.

Originally published in The News