Less than a week before Pakistan's general election, popular former Prime Minister Imran Khan remains behind bars. But members of his political party are urging voter support.
The former cricket star was ousted from power in 2022 and taken into custody on corruption charges last year. On January 30 and 31, he received two fresh sentences for corruption and leaking state secrets. But colleagues in his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, are running in the February 8 polls.
One of them, Shandana Gulzar, spoke to NHK. She says the convictions are designed to intimidate PTI supporters and keep them from voting. "It was to horrify the strong support base Imran Khan enjoys in Pakistan and across the world at this point in time," Gulzar asserted.
She added that people involved in the PTI campaign have been harassed, even receiving death threats. But she says her party is calling for voter calm and support on polling day.
PTI faces off two other main parties, one led by three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the other by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.