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Pakistan

Cipher case: Imran, Qureshi get 10 years in jail

  • Special court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain announces verdict
Published January 30, 2024

In yet another development on the domestic politics front, a special court handed on Tuesday former prime minister and founder Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and his close aide, ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, 10 years in jail in the cipher case.

Special court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain announced the verdict at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

The development comes a little over a week before the February 8 general elections, and is the founder PTI chairman’s second conviction in recent months.

He was previously sentenced to three years in the Toshakhana case on August 5.

Jail authorities produced Imran and Qureshi before the court, but lead counsel of both the accused did not make an appearance.

Both ex-ministers were given a questionnaire under Section 342 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

In December, the Supreme Court approved the post-arrest bails of Imran and Qureshi. However, both remain incarcerated in other cases.

Meanwhile, PTI official issued a statement saying that Pakistan stood with Imran and Qureshi.

“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 us to forget our primary responsibility in order to provide justice to IK and SMQ,” the PTI said.

PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub urged party workers to “remain calm and not indulge in any activity that undermines our traditional stance of a peaceful struggle”.

“The current kangaroo court ruling will not deter us from foregoing this principle come what may,” he said.

“We should harness and channel these energies for the polling day on February 8 to ensure that PM Imran Khan’s nominated candidates are returned to the assemblies with a thumping majority,” Ayub said.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said there was no debate that the cipher was a classified document and that Imran and Qureshi were punished under judicial process.

“PTI has the right to appeal this decision and even go to the Supreme Court,” he added.

Background

A case was registered against Imran and Qureshi under Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

It is related to the “misuse” of alleged contents of a diplomatic cipher, cited by ex-premier Imran as proof of the attempt to remove his government.

According to the copy of the FIR registered on August 15, consequent upon the conclusion of inquiry No 111/2023 upon the complaint registered in the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW), FIA, it transpired that former prime minister namely, Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, former foreign minister namely, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and their other associates are involved in the communication of information contained in the secret classified document (cipher telegram received from Parep Washington dated March 7, 2022, to secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to the unauthorised persons (i.e., public at large) by twisting the facts to achieve their “ulterior motives” and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security.

It is pertinent to mention that on December 13, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act indicted both of them in the case.

The duo was again indicted on December 13.

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