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Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi Convicted: Sentenced to 10 Years in Cipher Case

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A special court, established under the Official Secrets Act, delivered a significant ruling on Tuesday, sentencing former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in prison in the cipher case.

The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that, according to the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet, was allegedly never returned by Imran Khan. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has consistently maintained that the document contained a threat from the United States to remove Imran Khan from his position as prime minister.

This verdict arrives just nine days prior to the February 8 general elections, in which the PTI is participating despite facing government crackdowns and the absence of an electoral symbol.

Both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been incarcerated in the lead-up to the elections. While Imran Khan’s candidacy was rejected, Shah Mahmood Qureshi was granted clearance to contest a National Assembly seat from Thar. However, today’s conviction renders both of them ineligible to participate in elections for the next five years.

Imran Khan faces his second conviction, following his previous sentencing in the Toshakhana case on August 5, where he received a three-year prison term. Although the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had initially suspended his sentence, a division bench later dismissed Imran’s plea to suspend the conviction.

In contrast, this marks the first conviction for former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The verdict was delivered by Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain. During the hearing, both Imran and Qureshi were presented with a questionnaire under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, granting the court authority to examine the accused.

Following Imran’s testimony, the court inquired about the whereabouts of the cipher, to which he responded, “I have stated in my testimony that I am unaware. The cipher was in my office.”

Subsequently, the judge sentenced both individuals to 10 years’ imprisonment. However, upon the announcement of the verdict, Qureshi raised objections, stating that his statement had not been recorded as part of the proceedings.

In an informal exchange with journalists following the trial, Imran Khan made allegations against former army chief Gen (rtd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, claiming that Bajwa had conspired against his government to secure an extension.

“Bajwa sought another extension in November, and Shehbaz Sharif had assured him of it,” asserted the former premier, adding that Nawaz Sharif intervened to prevent this, aware that Bajwa’s associates were involved in investigating the Panama Papers case.

PTI Criticizes ‘Sham Trial,’ Plans to Challenge Verdict in IHC
In response, PTI’s official statement on X condemned what it deemed a “sham trial,” reaffirming support for Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who it claimed stood for the true freedom of Pakistan.

“The events of March-April 2022, orchestrated on the orders of Donald Lu, cannot be erased by such a farce of a trial,” the statement emphasized.

The statement urged the public to participate in the upcoming general elections on February 8, expressing confidence that Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi would soon be vindicated through the appeals process.

PTI leader Gohar Khan criticized the court’s rushed proceedings, alleging deviations from legal protocols and constitutional norms. He stressed the importance of patience among well-wishers and discouraged any reactionary responses to the verdict.

Imran’s sister, Aleema Khan, echoed these sentiments, suggesting external influences on Judge Zulqarnain. She insinuated that figures like Donald Lu and Gen Bajwa were hesitant to undergo cross-examination, prompting the verdict out of fear.

PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan underscored the party’s commitment to peaceful resistance and announced plans to appeal the decision. He encouraged supporters to channel their energies into the electoral process, aiming for a resounding victory for Imran Khan’s nominees.

Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser denounced the verdict as “painful” and “controversial,” highlighting procedural irregularities. He vowed to challenge the decision in higher courts, assuring supporters that justice would prevail.

Legal Battle Ahead
PTI counsel Barrister Ali Zafar outlined plans to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court, describing the verdict as a “blessing in disguise.” He criticized the trial’s conduct, emphasizing the necessity of a fair judicial process.

On the other side, PML-N leaders defended the verdict, asserting that Imran Khan had exploited classified information for political gain. Former interior minister Rana Sanaullah deemed the punishment justified, emphasizing the rule of law.

Former law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar accused Imran of mishandling sensitive documents and urged a judicial perspective on the matter. He emphasized the gravity of the charges and suggested that the law must take its course.

Amidst these legal and political battles, the fate of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi hangs in the balance. As the appeals process unfolds, Pakistan’s political landscape remains fraught with uncertainty, with both PTI and PML-N vying for supremacy amidst allegations of misconduct and misuse of power.

Imran Manzoor
Imran Manzoorhttps://imranmanzoor.com
Imran Manzoor born in Lahore,Pakistan is an author and a serial entrepreneur. Career He founded multiple companies. Currently he is CEO of Digitecho which he founded in 2019. He is a serial entrepreneur. As a speaker he is often invited as a speaker to share his views by reputed organizations, leading institutions & academia in Pakistan and overseas. He has been working closely with leaders from diverse industry segments like manufacturing, infrastructure, advertising, financial services, health care among others.

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