Former Pakistan PM, Imran Khan, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for leaking state secrets
On Tuesday 29th January 2024, just days before the Pakistan General Elections on February 8th, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was found guilty of leaking state secrets in a case which became known as the ‘Cipher case’ and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Khan’s associate, Deputy Head of the Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI), Shah Mahmood Qureshi, was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on the same indictment. The guilty verdict was not entirely a surprise for Khan’s legal team, although a harsher death sentence for treason was also possible.
Pre-election rigging and state interference conspire to ensure Imran Khan's Party delegates are unable to stand in elections
Lawyers representing both Khan and Qureshi, say that they will appeal the judgement, but the ruling and the other 150 other indictments against him, will definitely ensure that Imran Khan, a hugely popular and potent force in Pakistan politics, remains off the ballot in the next elections. The elections, which have been subject to a series of delays and which are now scheduled for 8th February, are widely believed to be fraught with pre-election rigging and interference by the authorities to ensure that other candidates from Imran Khan’s party are unable to stand in the elections.
Cipher hearing in secret, due to Official Secrets Act
The allegations for the Cipher case, were heard by Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqernain, in a closed special court within the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, under the strict conditions imposed by the Official Secrets Act. The hearing took place a month after the Supreme Court granted Khan bail after the judge overturned a three-year prison sentence for concealing assets obtained from selling state gifts.
Khan and Qureshi to appeal their convictions
Imran Khan and Qureshi continue to maintain their innocence through their legal team, and publicly state that the allegations of sharing state secrets are a ‘sham’. The case hangs on an incident at which Khan waved a diplomatic cable to gathered crowds proclaiming it to be evidence of a conspiracy between the Pakistani military and the US government to topple his presidency following his visit to Moscow, just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Khan has maintained that at no time did he ever disclose the contents of the cable itself, and that its contents were already in the public domain on social media.
Police fire tear gas and make dozens of arrests as thousands take to the streets in protest in Karachi
As news of the verdict emerged, thousands of PTI party supporters took to the streets in Karachi, chanting support for Khan and Qureshi, while police fired tear gas on the crowds and dozens of demonstrators were arrested.
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