ISLAMABAD: In a big political development, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Cipher case, just days ahead of the general elections in the country. The Cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges was never returned by Imran. The verdict was announced by special court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain during a hearing held at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, according to Pakistani media reports.
PTI founder Imran Khan & Shah Mehmood Qureshi have been given 10-year prison sentences in the Cipher case, reports Pakistan media.
Verdict Shakes Islamabad: Imran, Qureshi Face 10-Year Jail Term
Established under the Official Secrets Act, a special court delivered the verdict on Tuesday, citing the duo’s involvement in withholding a crucial diplomatic document. The Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges Imran Khan failed to return the document, sparking the legal turmoil.
PTI’s Allegations And General Elections
Amidst allegations by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that the document contained a veiled threat from the United States aimed at toppling Imran Khan’s premiership, the timing of the verdict, just days ahead of the February 8 general elections, amplifies the political tensions gripping the nation. Notably, the PTI is navigating these turbulent waters sans an electoral symbol, amidst a state-led crackdown on the party.
December witnessed the Supreme Court granting post-arrest bails to Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, offering a brief respite. However, their legal battles persisted, with Qureshi’s anticipated release thwarted by a fresh legal entanglement on May 9. Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb’s intervention temporarily halted the proceedings, citing legal irregularities in the case.
Fresh Trial Against Imran, Qureshi
The judicial saga took another twist as the special court recommenced the Cipher trial at Adiala district jail last month. Imran and Qureshi, facing indictment for the second time, maintained their innocence, echoing their initial pleas despite mounting legal pressure. The Islamabad High Court’s rebuke of the government’s handling of the case further underscored the tumult surrounding the trial.
Allegations Of Bias And Government Interference
As state-appointed counsels assumed responsibility due to the absence of previously designated representatives, Imran Khan decried the trial as a farce, citing concerns of bias with both prosecution and defence teams aligning with the government. Such claims further fueled the contentious nature of the proceedings, amplifying calls for judicial transparency and impartiality.
The ramifications of this landmark verdict resonate far beyond the confines of the courtroom, casting a long shadow over Pakistan’s political landscape and igniting debates on accountability, transparency, and the rule of law.