(CTN News) – On Tuesday, a specialized court delivered a significant ruling, sentencing former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan, along with his close associate, former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, to 10 years in prison in connection with the cipher case.
The verdict was announced by Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
This development comes just over a week before the scheduled February 8 general elections and marks the second conviction for the founder and chairman of PTI in recent months. Imran Khan had previously received a three-year sentence in the Toshakhana case on August 5.
Both Imran and Qureshi were presented before the court by jail authorities, although their lead counsel did not make an appearance. The ex-ministers were provided with a questionnaire under Section 342 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
In December, the Supreme Court granted post-arrest bails to Imran and Qureshi. However, they remain in custody in connection with other cases.
Meanwhile, an official statement from PTI expressed solidarity with Imran and Qureshi, asserting that Pakistan stands with them. The party criticized the trial as a “sham” and claimed it was a disregard for the law in the cipher case.
The statement emphasized the party’s commitment to ensuring justice for Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, dismissing the trial as a mockery and a violation of legal procedures allegedly carried out on the orders of Donald Lu in March-April 2022.
Pakistan stands with Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood 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.
A complete mockery and disregard of law in the cipher case shall not lead… https://t.co/y3lmuEIN85
— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 30, 2024
PTI Secretary General Urges Calm Amidst Controversial Court Ruling
PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub has called upon party members to “remain calm and abstain from engaging in any activities that undermine our longstanding commitment to a peaceful struggle.”
Despite the recent controversial court ruling, Ayub emphasized that the party should stay true to its principles.
“The current verdict from what appears to be a biased court will not dissuade us from adhering to this principle under any circumstances,” he asserted.
Ayub encouraged party members to focus their energies on the upcoming polling day on February 8, with the aim of ensuring that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s nominated candidates secure a substantial majority in the assemblies.
On the other hand, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah acknowledged that the cipher in question was a classified document. He affirmed that the punishment meted out to Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi was a result of due judicial process.
Legal Proceedings Initiated Against Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi Under Official Secrets Act
A case has been filed against Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi under Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The charges are linked to the alleged “misuse” of the contents of a diplomatic cipher, which former Prime Minister Imran Khan presented as evidence of an attempt to undermine his government.
According to the FIR copy registered on August 15, following the conclusion of inquiry No 111/2023 based on a complaint filed in the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) of the FIA, it was revealed that Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, the former prime minister, and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the former foreign minister, along with their associates, are implicated in conveying information from a secret classified document (cipher telegram received from Parep Washington dated March 7, 2022, to the secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to unauthorized individuals (i.e., the public) by distorting facts to achieve their “ulterior motives” and personal gains, in a manner detrimental to the interests of state security.
It is noteworthy that on December 13, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act formally charged both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in connection with this case. The duo faced additional charges during their second indictment on the same date.