Former Prime Minister Imran Khan Sentenced to 10 Years Jail

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been handed down 10-year prison sentences by a special court established under the Official Secrets Act. The verdict comes just nine days before the February 8 general elections in Pakistan.

Imran Khan Sentenced to 10 Years Jail

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The cipher case is around a document that the Federal Investigation Agency alleges was never returned by Imran Khan.

The charge sheet suggests that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister.

Imran has maintained that the document was a tool in a conspiracy against him and that he was being targeted by both internal and external forces.

Imran Khan’s second conviction, as he was previously convicted in the Toshakhana case on August 5, resulting in a three-year imprisonment sentence.

However, the Islamabad High Court had suspended his sentence initially, only for a division bench to later reject Imran’s petition seeking the suspension of the conviction.

The special court judge, Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, announced the verdict in the cipher case after both Imran and Qureshi were given a questionnaire under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Imran, in his statement, claimed ignorance about the whereabouts of the cipher, stating it was in his office. The judge, unsatisfied with the response, sentenced both Imran and Qureshi to 10 years in jail.

PTI decried the trial as a ‘sham’ and announced its intention to challenge the decision in the Islamabad High Court.

The party issued a statement saying that Pakistan stood with Imran and Qureshi, who defended the country against alleged external threats.

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PTI labeled the trial as a mockery and disregard for the law in the cipher case. The statement urged the public to come out and vote on February 8.

PTI leaders, including Gohar Khan, criticized the special court judge for the hasty announcement of the verdict, claiming that the proceedings were not conducted in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

The judge’s role in asking questions and the alleged irregularities in witness cross-examination have questions about the fairness of the trial. Imran’s sister, Aleema Khan, even alleged that someone was giving instructions to the judge.

PTI leaders, including PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan and PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar, announced their intention to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court.

They expressed confidence in the higher judiciary, addressing that the current ruling would not deter them from pursuing their legal battle.

The political fallout from the verdict has been swift, with the PML-N, a rival political party, expressing support for the sentence.

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Former Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah justified the punishment, claiming that Imran had used the classified document for political gains.

PML-N leader Azam Nazeer Tarar accused Imran of making a joke out of the Official Secrets Act and jeopardizing national security. The PML-N sees the court’s decision as a win for the state.

The sentencing of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi has discussions about the credibility of the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8.

Many question the fairness of the electoral process, especially with the crackdown on PTI, arrests of its leaders, and the denial of its electoral symbol.

The ban on PTI’s cricket bat symbol and the rejection of PTI candidates concerns about the democratic integrity of the elections.

The restrictions on media coverage, with TV stations banned from airing Khan’s speeches, concerns about freedom of the press and the ability of citizens to access unbiased information.

Imran Khan, a former cricket star, rose to prominence as a leader who promised to bring change to Pakistan’s politics.

His anti-corruption stance and promises of good governance garnered support, leading to his election as prime minister in 2018.

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