Pakistan: Imran Khan's political rivals hail his 10-year jail sentence in cipher case

Khan's party has rejected the decision and decided to challenge it in high court

By PTI

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 30 Jan 2024, 5:08 PM

Major political parties, including the PML-N and PPP, on Tuesday hailed the 10-year prison sentence handed out to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan in the cipher case even as Khan's party rejected it and decided to challenge it in the high court.

Earlier in the day, a special court set up under the Official Secrets Act handed down a 10-year jail term to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supremo Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for leaking state secrets.

The cipher case pertains to a piece of paper, purported to be a diplomatic cable —the cipher — that Khan had waved at a public rally on March 27, 2022, and naming the US, had claimed that it was evidence of an 'international conspiracy' to topple his government.

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The case was filed against Khan, 71, and Qureshi, 67, on August 15 last year by the Federal Investigation Agency, which accused both of violating the secrecy laws while handling the cable sent by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022.

Khan was ousted through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

Incarcerated Khan has already alleged that the powerful military establishment has favoured Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif and that he (Khan) is being targeted to prevent him from returning to power.

“The PML-N hails this decision. Today Imran Khan paid the price for playing with the national security,” senior leader and former interior minister Rana Sanaullah said in a statement.

“If you play with national security matters, you will be duly punished. The state secrets can't be made public. Imran Khan still has a Supreme Court forum to appeal against this decision,” he said.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senior leader Sharjeel Memon said Khan tried to gain political mileage by making the cipher public. “Cipher was not a conspiracy against Pakistan (by the US). Khan shouldn't have used it for his political purpose as he put his political interest above the country. He is not a genuine leader that's why he did so,” Memon said.

"It was not a small case as Khan tried to save his government by playing this dangerous game," he added.

The Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, however, expressed its regret over the decision urging all political players to engage in dialogue for strengthening of democracy in the country.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan's sister Aleema Khan said: “’They’ (a reference to the military establishment) want to award Imran Khan the death penalty. However, I urge the supporters of PTI to take revenge only by voting for the PTI candidates in the February 8 elections in the country,” she said.

PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan said the decision in the “fake and fraudulent cipher case” is as gross a travesty of justice as one can be.

“It came to the hurried conclusion after a sham trial conducted by a visibly partisan and prejudiced judge in a stifling and intimidating environment inside the jail, thus violating all norms and principles relating to conducting a fair trial as enshrined in the statute book,” he alleged.

“We reject the judgement vehemently and vow to pursue all constitutional and legal means to secure justice for Khan, PTI, and Qureshi. Our legal team is working on pursuing these options without any loss of time. We expect justice and we shall secure justice,” Hasan said on X.

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