In a significant development, a Pakistani court has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in prison in cipher case. The charges stem from a violation of the Official Secrets Act, with both leaders found guilty of making a diplomatic cable public during Khan’s tenure.
Imran Khan received his sentence within the confines of Adiala Jail, where he is placed since his August arrest.
The verdict was pronounced by special court judge Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain. However, Imran Khan retains the option to appeal against the decision in a higher court, indicating potential legal maneuvers in the ongoing case.
The case revolves around allegations that Imran Khan disclosed the contents of a confidential cable between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of foreign affairs in Islamabad.
Imran Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), labeled the case a “sham” and announced plans to challenge the decision. PTI expressed unwavering confidence in Khan and Qureshi.
Throughout the trial, Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), expressed grave concerns that the former prime minister could face the death penalty for treason charges. Khan himself has consistently asserted his innocence, emphasizing that he never revealed the cable’s full contents. Meanwhile, Qureshi stands accused of manipulating the diplomatic cable’s contents for political gain.
The cipher case is just one of more than 150 cases Imran Khan faces, with charges ranging from contempt of court to terrorism. Imran Khan is specifically accused of revealing a classified cable during a public rally, asserting it as evidence of a US conspiracy against him.
The special court restarted the cipher trial last month after the Islamabad High Court nullified previous proceedings. Imran Khan and Qureshi were indicted for a second time in December, both maintaining their innocence.
In response to the verdict, Imran Khan denounced the trial as a “fixed match,” suggesting external influences in the legal proceedings. He underscored the Islamabad High Court’s twice-nullified status of the cipher case and reiterated his claim of innocence.
On X, Imran Khan said, “This is not a trial but a fixed match whose outcome was predetermined by the characters and planners of the London Plan and their seals. That is why I already know the decision of this case.”
He added, “Remember that Cipher is a case which has been declared null and void twice by the Islamabad High Court and ordered to be re-tried because both times the case was tried to be run in violation of the constitution and the law. Then the Supreme Court has also given me bail in this case because the whole building of this case has been built on lies, bullying, conspiracy and deceit.”
In a bid to overturn a previous ruling, Pakistan’s caretaker government filed a petition with the Supreme Court earlier this month. The petition challenged the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision, which declared the government’s notification regarding PTI leader Imran Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case as invalid. The government argued that the IHC failed to properly assess the case’s facts and lacked the authority to invalidate the special court established for Khan’s trial.