Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi sentenced to 10 years in prison in cipher case

A special court hearing the cypher case sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan and former prime minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in prison for revealing state secrets.–File photo

A special court hearing the cipher case sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in prison for revealing state secrets.

Set up under the Official Secrets Act, the Special Court is headed by Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, who heard the case inside the highly-secured Adiala Jail and announced his verdict on Tuesday.

The special court verdict comes nine days before the February 8 general election, which Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is contesting without its iconic bat symbol and amid the worst crackdown launched by the state institutions on the pretext of the notorious May 9 riots.

Both Imran and Qureshi have been in Adiala Jail as Pakistan heads into the most controversial and unreliable elections in its history. Imran Khan’s nomination papers were rejected, but Qureshi was cleared by the Supreme Court to contest the election for a National Assembly seat in the Thar area in Sindh. However, today’s conviction means that both of them have been disqualified from contesting elections for the next five years.

In a post on X after the verdict, PTI’s official account issued a statement, saying that Pakistan stood with Imran and Qureshi “who defended Pakistan and stood for haqeeqi azadi”. “No such sham trial can change what happened in March-April 2022, on the orders of Donald Lu,” the statement added.

“A complete mockery and disregard of the law in the cipher case shall not lead us to forget our primary responsibility in order to provide justice to Imran and Qureshi.” The statement urged the public to come out and vote on February 8.

“God willing kaptaan and vice kaptaan will be back soon, and this sentence will be (thrown) in the dustbin in the appeal stage,” it concluded.

PTI leader Gohar Khan said that the special court judge had announced the verdict in haste, adding that proceedings were not being conducted in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

“He asked questions himself and the way our witness was cross-examined, you cannot find any such examples in history,” he said while speaking to the media outside the Islamabad High Court.

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