New Telegraph

Pakistan Ex-PM Bags 10 Years Imprisonment

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan and one of his party deputies have been sentenced to 10 years in prison each after finding them guilty of revealing official secrets.

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

Khan, who was ousted through a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022, is serving a three-year prison sentence in a corruption case.

The latest development comes in the run-up to the country’s parliamentary elections on 8 February – a vote in which Khan is barred from running because of his previous criminal conviction.

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Authorities say Khan and his deputy, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, have the right to appeal against Tuesday’s ruling in what has become popularly known as the Cipher case.

Although Khan will not be on the ballot for the February election, he remains a potent political force because of his grassroots following and anti-establishment rhetoric. He says the legal cases against him were a plot to sideline him before the vote.

There have been violent demonstrations in Pakistan in the aftermath of Khan’s May 2023 arrest. Authorities have cracked down on his supporters and party since then.

Pakistan’s independent human rights commission has said there is little chance of a free and fair parliamentary election next month because of “pre-poll rigging”. It also expressed concern about authorities rejecting the candidacies of Khan and senior figures from his party.

The Cipher case is one of more than 150 pending against Khan, a former cricketer turned Islamist politician. Other charges range from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence.

Khan is alleged to have waved a confidential document during a rally after he was toppled as premier, claiming that it was proof he was being threatened and that his ousting was a US conspiracy, allegedly executed by the military and the government in Pakistan. Washington and Pakistani officials have denied the claim.

The document he waved, nicknamed Cipher, has not been made public by either the government or Khan’s lawyers but was apparently diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

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