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Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi sentenced to 10 years’ jail in state secrets case – Times of India

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan and his close aide, ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, were sentenced by a court on Tuesday to 10 years’ imprisonment in a cipher case linked to alleged disclosure of state secrets.
The sentencing of the country’s main opposition leaders— by a special court established under the pre-Partition Official Secrets Act of 1923 — came nine days before general elections, slated for Feb 8, which the Imran-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is contesting amid a state crackdown and without an electoral symbol.Since the Supreme Court had turned down PTI’s plea to restore its cricket bat electoral symbol, the party has fielded its candidates as independents on oath that they will rejoin PTI after elections.
PTI’s counsel, barrister Ali Zafar, said the decision would be challenged in the higher courts.
Following the special court verdict, PTI warned its supporters to remain calm and take revenge through their power to vote. While Imran’s candidature had already been rejected due to his earlier conviction in a graft case, Tuesday’s judgment disqualified him again from contesting elections for the next five years.
This is Qureshi’s first, and Imran’s second, conviction; the ex-PM was also convicted in the Toshakhana case on Aug 5last year and sentenced to three years in jail. The Islamabad high court had suspended his sentence but a division bench had later rejected Imran’s plea seeking suspension of conviction.
The special court was constituted in Nov 2023 to try Khan and Qureshi inside Rawalpindi’s Adiala prison, where the two leaders are being held, for misusing a classified diplomatic cable sent by a former Pakistani ambassador to the US. The prosecution said the former PM’s actions amounted to leaking secret diplomatic correspondence and damaging Islamabad’s relations with Washington.
The cipher, according to Khan, contained evidence that his removal as PM was a plot hatched by his political opponents and the powerful military, with help from the US administration. In March 2022, a month before Imran’s ouster from government in a no-trust vote, he had waved a piece of paper at a public rally, saying it showed a foreign (a reference to the US)conspiracy against him. Both Washington and the Pakistan army had rejected the accusation.
At the outset of the hearing, Imran and Qureshi were given a questionnaire under Section 342 (power to examine the accused) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. After Imran recorded his statement, the court asked him about the whereabouts of the cipher, to which he replied: “I have said the same in my statement, that I do not know. The cipher was in my office.”Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain then announced the verdict and sentenced the two.
PTI’s official account on X issued a statement saying that no such sham trial could change what happened in March-April 2022, on the orders of “Donald Lu (US state department official)”.“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,” it said.
“We trust the high court and the Supreme Court. At the end of the day, we will eventually get relief. Show patience, do not get angry, and don’t take the law in your hands,” PTI leader Gohar Khan said.
Imran’s sister, Aleema Khan, said the sentence was given due to the fear of Donald Lu and Pakistan ex-army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa being summoned for cross-examination. She urged PTI voters to voice their opinion in the upcoming general election, saying there would be “no better revenge” than that.

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