Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan, deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi get 10-year jail term for leaking state secrets

05:02PM Tue 30 Jan, 2024

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been given 10-year prison sentences by a Pakistan court in the controversial Cipher case. 

Pakistan's state media and a spokesman for PTI confirmed the jail term meted out to Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the case related to leaking state documents, popularly called the cipher case

"Former prime minister Imran Khan and PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) vice-president Qureshi have been sentenced to 10 years each inside prison in the cypher case," a spokesman for the party told AFP.

According to Zulfiqar Bukhari, spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, the court announced the verdict at a prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Authorities say that Imran Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi have the right to appeal against Tuesday's ruling in the case.

Former captain of Pakistan men's cricket team, Imran Khan had been ousted through a no-confidence motion in the parliament in April 2022. Khan is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in a graft case.

The latest development comes ahead of the scheduled February 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan.

Although Imran Khan will not be on the ballot for the Pakistan elections, he remains a potent political force because of his grassroots following and anti-establishment rhetoric. 

Imran Khan has alleged that the legal cases against him were a plot to sideline him ahead of the vote.

Media reports had earlier stated that jailed Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party could be banned if its founder and former prime minister and other top brass are convicted in the cases relating to the May 9 violent incidents and violation of the Secrets Act in the cipher case. 

With Tuesday's court verdict, the PTI's chances of contesting the Pakistan General Elections seem narrow. Imran Khan and PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been incarcerated at the Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi for over six months. 

Pakistan has witnessed violent demonstrations after Imran Khan’s May 2023 arrest. Authorities have cracked down on his supporters and party since then.

The Pakistan election commission has not just snatched away the PTI’s cricket bat symbol but also rejected the nomination papers of both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi on various pretexts.

The PTI has earlier demanded that the ongoing proceedings of unconstitutional trial in the ‘false and fabricated’ cipher case should be annulled instantly and the party supremo Imran Khan and vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi should be released forthwith.

(With agency inputs)