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Pakistani Court Hands Down 10-Year Sentence to Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan for Disclosing Confidential Information

Pakistani court sentences former Prime Minister Imran Khan to 10 years for revealing state secrets

On Tuesday, a Pakistani court handed down a 10-year prison sentence to former Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of his party deputies, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, finding them guilty of disclosing official secrets.

This ruling dealt another blow to Khan, the former cricket star turned Islamist politician, who had been removed through a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022 and is currently serving a three-year prison term in a corruption case.

The verdict, announced by the court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, was part of the Cipher case. Zulfiqar Bukhari, spokesperson for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, stated that both Khan and Qureshi have the right to appeal the decision. The sentencing occurred ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 8, in which Khan is ineligible to participate due to his prior criminal conviction.

Pakistani Court Hands Down 10-Year Sentence to Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan for Disclosing Confidential Information

Pakistani Court Hands Down 10-Year Sentence to Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan for Disclosing Confidential Information (Credits: ABC27)

Although not a candidate in the upcoming election, Khan retains significant political influence due to his widespread grassroots support and anti-establishment stance.

He contends that the legal actions against him are a concerted effort to sideline him before the vote. Since Khan’s arrest in May 2023, Pakistan has witnessed violent demonstrations, and authorities have taken measures against his supporters and party members.

The independent human rights commission in Pakistan has expressed concerns about the fairness of the upcoming parliamentary election, citing “pre-poll rigging.” The commission also voiced apprehension over the rejection of candidacies belonging to Khan and senior members of his party.

The Cipher case is just one of over 150 pending against Khan, ranging from contempt of court to charges of terrorism and incitement of violence.

In the Cipher case, Khan allegedly displayed a confidential document, known as Cipher, during a rally after his ouster. The document, described as a classified cable, purportedly contained diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

Khan asserted during the speech that the document proved he was under threat and that his removal was part of a U.S. conspiracy orchestrated by the military and the Pakistani government. Both Washington and Pakistani officials have denied these claims.

The recent verdict follows the earlier indictment of Khan and Qureshi in the Cipher case. Throughout the trial, there were concerns among Khan’s party and supporters that he might face the death penalty for treason. Khan, however, maintains his innocence, emphasizing that he did not disclose the precise contents of the cable. Qureshi was accused of manipulating the contents of a diplomatic cable for political gain.

Political analyst Syed Muhammad Ali commented that the verdict was anticipated, noting that Khan and Qureshi had indeed harmed Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with the United States and caused embarrassment to the then-Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed to the United States.

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