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Pakistan’s Imran Khan gets 10-year jail term for revealing state secrets

In World
January 30, 2024

A Pakistani court on Tuesday sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of his party deputies to 10 years in prison each, after finding them guilty of revealing official secrets.

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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.

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

The latest development comes ahead of the Feb. 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan – a vote that Khan is barred from running in because of his previous criminal conviction. 

Authorities say Khan and his deputy who also received a 10-year sentence, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, have the right to appeal Tuesday’s ruling in the case, popularly known as the Cipher case.

Although Khan will not be on the ballot for the Febuary 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 ahead of the vote. 

Pakistan has seen violent demonstrations since after 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 cases pending against Khan, a former cricket star 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 ouster 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 – dubbed 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. 

(AP)

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