International

Pakistan: In Relief For Imran Khan, Court Suspends 10 Year Sentence In Cipher Case

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the alleged leaking of secret diplomatic correspondence sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington in early 2022.

PTI
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | Photo: PTI
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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has acquitted former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case.

Khan, 71, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the alleged leaking of secret diplomatic correspondence sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington in early 2022, when Khan was prime minister. He has been in jail since August last year.

Both Khan and Qureshi were found not guilty by a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, as reported by DAWN.

However, Khan remains in prison, serving a seven-year sentence for allegedly marrying his wife too soon after her divorce, which is considered a violation of Islamic law. In the runup to elections in February, Khan was hit with a trio of prison sentences for cases he claims were orchestrated to prevent his return to power. 

He has also been found guilty of graft over gifts he received in his time as premier between 2018 and 2022. Whilst his 14-year sentence was suspended in April, the conviction still stands.

While talking to the media, a senior leader of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, welcomed the verdict, stating: “The nation saw today that the just verdict came and the banner of justice was held high and that baseless case was eliminated in which Imran Khan spent around 10 months in jail and for which he was kept in jail all the time. Today is a day of happiness … very soon the nation will see that Imran Khan will be outside.”

What Is The Cipher Case?

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan publicly discussed a secret document on March 27, 2022, during a large gathering in Islamabad. He presented a 'letter' from his pocket, alleging it as evidence of an international conspiracy to remove him from the PM In April of the same year, Imran Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership. The vote occurred past midnight following a motion brought by opposition parties, concluding days of political drama.

Since then, Imran Khan has consistently referred to the classified cable and its contents—The Cipher—claiming that the U.S. orchestrated the no-confidence vote against him. Both Washington and Pakistani officials have denied these allegations.

In response, in July 2023, the Pakistan Muslim League (N)-led government accused the former PM of "exposing an official secret document".

The ongoing prosecution alleged that the former PM's actions amounted to leaking a classified document and causing damage to diplomatic relations. The latter charge carries the potential for life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

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