Wednesday Briefing: Imran Khan Gets 10 Years


Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday. The verdict is widely seen as part of a military campaign to sideline him and his party, and comes about a week before the country’s first national election since Khan was ousted in April 2022.

Analysts say the election will be among the least credible in Pakistan’s 76-year history. The military — long the invisible hand guiding Pakistan’s politics — has meddled in elections before. This time its interference is more visible.

Khan’s popularity — though he has been jailed in several legal cases and barred from contesting the national election — has remained high since his removal from power, which he claims the military orchestrated. The military has denied the accusation. Public anger at the military has grown, even as members of Pakistan’s elite have been arrested after supporting Khan.

Details: Khan was accused of leaking state secrets. The verdict was handed down by a special court, established last year, that analysts say is deferential to the military’s wishes. Khan has called the trial a “fixed match,” and his party has said it would appeal the verdict.

Hamas is studying a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, which would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages. The framework of the deal emerged from talks among Qatar, Egypt, Israel and the U.S.

Here’s the latest.

The agreement by Hamas’s leader to even consider a proposal floated in part by Israel raised hopes that there was a possibility of a deal, even if there are still big differences between the sides.

Hamas’s political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, suggested his openness to a deal in a statement. But he stuck to longstanding demands for the total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, which the Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately rejected.

An assassination: Israeli forces killed a Hamas commander and two other militants inside a West Bank hospital yesterday.

Hong Kong’s government plans to enact a long-shelved security law, officials said yesterday. It would curb foreign influence and broaden the definition of offenses like stealing state secrets and treason. The measure would exist alongside sweeping legislation passed by Beijing in 2020.

The law is expected to further silence dissent, and officials say it will weed out what the city’s leader John Lee called hostile forces “still lurking in our society.” Critics say it will ensure a further reduction of human rights.

Background: The government first tried to enact the law in 2003, but backed down after major protests by residents who worried it would limit civil liberties.

Hannah Neeleman, a Utah homemaker and social media influencer known online as “Ballerina Farm,” gave birth to her eighth child at home — without medication. Two weeks later, she headed to Las Vegas, newborn in tow, to compete in the Mrs. World beauty pageant.

“She’s breathed in a lot of hair spray,” she joked while holding her baby, “but other than that she’s stayed safe.”

Collectives like Balming Tiger are challenging the idea that K-pop is nothing but perfectly polished boy bands and girl groups. Their music, a fusion of diverse genres from electro to hip-hop, is funky and edgy. Their look is unkempt and grungy. Perhaps most importantly, the music, videos and choreography are all theirs.

This D.I.Y. approach is practically unheard-of in an industry where a vast majority of similar groups audition for a management company and then, if they make it, undergo rigorous training that can last years. Their public images are heavily manicured. Their personal lives are often rigidly controlled. But not Balming Tiger.

“It’s our imperfections that actually make us more attractive,” one vocalist said. “I want people to see us and think ‘K-pop is cool,’ not just in the frame of being pretty and handsome, but being something that appeals to a diverse audience.”

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