Cipher Case Decision: Imran Sentence to 10 Years in Prison
Imran Khan, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and senior party leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been sentenced to 10 years each in prison in connection with the cipher case. The case revolves around allegations that the former prime minister disclosed the contents of a secret cable sent by the country’s ambassador in Washington to the government in Islamabad.
This marks the second conviction for Imran Khan in recent months, following a three-year sentence in a corruption case. Although he challenged the corruption conviction and had his jail term suspended, it rendered him ineligible for the upcoming general elections.
Special Court Judge
The verdict was delivered verbally by special court judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, with both PTI leaders present. The special court, established under the Official Secrets Act 2023, has been conducting hearings at Adiala Jail since the case began last year.
Imran and Qureshi pleaded not guilty to misusing a diplomatic cable for political purposes. Before announcing the verdict, Judge Zulqarnain noted the absence of the PTI leaders’ lawyers and appointed state counsel to represent them.
The decision comes after disruptions in the courtroom during the previous hearing, leading to the appointment of state lawyers for Imran and Qureshi. The court had indicted both politicians for a second time in December, and the Supreme Court granted post-arrest bails to them in the same month.
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, Imran’s successor, urged PTI workers to remain calm and not take the law into their hands. He criticized the cases against the PTI chief, claiming they disregard the Constitution and the law. Gohar expressed confidence in the appeal process, emphasizing the party’s trust in the Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court.
The ciphergate controversy originated in March 2022 when Imran Khan, before his ouster, waved a letter at a public rally, alleging a foreign conspiracy against his government. The letter was said to be a cipher, and Imran accused the United States of interference. The National Security Committee later found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy. Audio leaks also surfaced, allegedly featuring discussions about the US cipher among Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Azam.