Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in prison alongside former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The verdict was announced on Tuesday, January 31 by a special court in the Rawalpindi prison where the ex-PM is currently serving his three-year sentence on charges of corruption.
Khan has been convicted in a cipher case, for divulging “state secrets” at a public rally thereby, violating the Official Secrets Act of 1923. The confidential cable reportedly contained a diplomatic exchange between the former Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed to the United States and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Khan has continued to maintain innocence, stating that the classified cable contained crucial evidence of the alleged conspiracy between the US and his opposition in Pakistan and the country’s military regime to overthrow his government.
Both Washington and the Pakistani army have refuted such claims.
Authorities reported that both Khan and Qureshi will be allowed to appeal Tuesday’s verdict.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader was removed from office in April 2022 following a no-confidence motion. Ever since stepping down from his political position Khan the veteran cricketer has continued to face a multitude of legal cases, amounting to as many as 150 cases, including charges of terrorism, contempt of court and inciting violence as per The Associated Press.
Pakistan’s 2024 Elections
The sentence comes days before the nation’s elections set to be held on February 8. Although his convictions prevent him from running for office, Imran Khan holds significance influence over the masses. His May 2023 arrest was met with various protests across the country.
He has also claimed that most of the incriminating charges against him are a ploy to keep him away from the upcoming elections.
His party and its candidates have been targeted on multiple occasions by the incumbent ruling party. The party’s emblem, that of a cricket bat, was revoked by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). However, a high court eventually restored its right to use the symbol for its political campaigns in December 2023.
Pakistan Human Rights have also stated the unlikeliness of there being a fair parliamentary elections owing to “pre-poll rigging”.
Omar Ayub, a Khan loyalist urged his supporters to maintain peace and not to resort to any form of violence. He further urged people to support the candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the upcoming elections.