Days before the general elections in Pakistan, former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years in jail for leaking state secrets in the cypher case, as reported by The Indian Express.
The special court, established under the Official Secrets Act, pronounced the sentence. Imran Khan, 71, and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, 67, are said to be detained at Rawalpindi's high-security Adiala jail.
They were imprisoned on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act by revealing the contents of a secret diplomatic cable, known as the cypher, sent by Pakistan's embassy in Washington.
The court's decision comes just nine days before the scheduled elections on 8 February.
The cypher was reportedly missing from Khan's possession, and the duo claimed that it contained a threat from the United States to overthrow their government.
Rejecting the sentence, Khan's lawyer Naeem Panjutha took to social media, stating, "We don’t accept this illegal decision."
Khan had previously characterised the trial as a "joke," accusing both the prosecution team and defence counsels of being aligned with the government.
He likened the trial to a "fixed match," alleging that the outcome was predetermined by characters and planners associated with the London Plan.
Imran Khan was ousted from the Prime Minister's post in April 2022 through a vote of no-confidence, and he has faced over 150 cases since then.
His party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been mostly absent from the campaign in the run-up to the elections. The party has also been denuded of its election symbol thus forcing he candidates to run as individuals.
The opposition leader's arrest last May led to a crackdown on PTI, resulting in the defection or underground status of many senior leaders.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif, head of one of Pakistan's dynastic parties has returned from self-imposed exile, and his convictions were dissolved in the courts. Some analysts have suggested that Sharif is emerging as the favoured candidate of the military establishment, which has a significant influence in Pakistan's political landscape.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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