Pakistan special court on 23rd October, indicted former Prime Minister Imran Khan for violating the Official Secrets Act. He, with his fellow leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is charged in the Cipher case.
Mr. Khan in the Cipher case alleged disclosing a secret diplomatic cable (also known as cipher) sent by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022. This cipher was then willfully used by Imran Khan to build a strong narrative blaming that some foreign component was hampering the working of his government. In other words, he blamed a ‘foreign conspiracy’.
What is the Cipher case against Imran Khan?
The charge sheet was filed against the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan for leaking confidential information when he was in power. He has been facing legal hurdles since his removal from office in April 2022 by a no-confidence motion in the Pak parliament against him.
In such legal charges for indictment of crucial confidential information, there is a penalty of 14 years of imprisonment which can also lead to the death penalty in extreme cases.
The special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain stated that the illegal act done by Imran Khan carries important information between two countries Pakistan and the United States. Such an act is highly condemned, and it is against ‘Pakistan’s national interest’.
Imran Khan with his party PTI has alleged that the Cipher cable carried important information from the US which was a threat to overthrow his government. Mr. Khan said that the Official Secrets Act of 1923 is a colonial-era rule and should be removed.
The Cipher case against Mr. Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi was filed during the tenure of the Shehbaz Sharif government. This is said to be a tactic of the present military power against Mr. Khan to keep him away from the upcoming January 2024 elections.
The Shehbaz government’s move against Imran Khan can be well understood by the return of former three times Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan.
It would be interesting to see how Mr. Khan will be free from the Cipher case. Both Mr. Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges in the special court.
Numerous cases have been filed against former Prime Minister Imran Khan since he was removed from power. The Pakistan political system is run by the military either by hook or crook.
The upcoming January 2024 elections would shape the new dynamics in Pakistan with Nawaz Sharif coming back to Pakistan and the current Cipher case on Imran Khan.