Imran, Qureshi sentenced to 10-year imprisonment in cypher case

Special court announces decision after accused record statements under Section 342

Our Correspondent January 30, 2024
Former PTI chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: FILE

The special court established under the Official Secrets Act awarded on Tuesday former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi 10 years imprisonment in the high-profile cypher case.

The court, presided by Judge Abul Hasanat Zulqarnain, announced the verdict during the hearing held within the premises of Rawalpindi's Adiala jail.

Before sentencing Imran, the judge asked the former premier one last time where the cypher was.

“I have mentioned in my statement that the Prime Minister House’s security was not my responsibility. I don’t have the cypher,” he stated.

The judge also provided the two PTI leaders with copies of the statement and the questionnaire under Section 342 and both accused were asked to record their replies in the questionnaire.

After Imran and Qureshi recorded their statements under Section 342, the court announced its verdict.

Gauhar slams verdict

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that the "reality of the bogus cases" could not be denied even if Imran and Qureshi were sentenced to death. 

Expressing hope in the party's future course of action, he said they would move the high court against the sentence and the court will deliver a "free and fair" judgment following today's "abrupt" verdict. 

Gohar urged PTI supporters to remain calm and peaceful, adding that the party is hopeful of relief from the Supreme Court and the high court.

“You do not have to be violent, don’t even throw a pebble, all the powers are being used to divert our attention from the February 8 elections, but stay focused on the polls and the power of our votes will do justice for Imran and Qureshi,” said the PTI chairman.

He also urged supporters not to fall for any "pre-planned" act like that on May 9. 

Replying to a journalist's question regarding Imran’s reaction to the decision, Gohar said that the PTI founder was neither frustrated nor angry as he knew the case and its trial was a "fixed match".

PTI counsel Hamid Khan claimed that during the proceedings in the court, the party lawyers were taken to a small room where "weapons were pointed at them".

He added that this is the worst example of justice being denied in history.

'Sham trial'

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, reacting to the verdict by the special court, said such "sham trials have their future written in dustbin".

The party referred to the verdict as a "complete disgusting mockery of law" and vowed that "revenge" will be taken by the people through their vote on February 8.

Senior PTI lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa stated that the "fake cypher case" will not last long, adding that the nation must not lose hope and everyone must cast a vote on February 8.

“Imran Khan will be out soon, the best revenge for cruelty is to vote,” Khosa tweeted.

He added that the nation holds the power to free Imran from prison and take him directly to the Prime Minister's House.


Imran to challenge cypher trial

The PTI founder has challenged the jail proceedings and the appointment of state defence counsel in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A petition on behalf of the former PM was filed in IHC on Tuesday, which argued that the special court’s January 26 order to appoint state counsels against Imran and Qureshi must be annulled.

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan has requested the IHC chief justice to schedule the hearing for an early hearing.

Party counsel Hamid Khan, while speaking to the media, said that since the IHC has nullified the cypher jail trial, all subsequent proceedings against the PTI leaders are illegal.

The cypher

The case originated from Imran's public display of a paper during a rally in Islamabad on March 27, 2022, claiming it as evidence of an "international conspiracy" before a vote of no-confidence led to his government's ouster.

The FIA initiated its probe into the so-called “cypher-gate” on July 19, 2023, after the previous coalition government announced an official inquiry against Imran and his close associates for violating the OSA.

Imran was arrested on August 5, following his conviction in the Toshakhana case by a local court of Islamabad. Later, he was also arrested in the cypher case on August 29.

As per the challan papers, both Imran and Qureshi, the former foreign minister, were charged under sections 5 and 9 of the OSA. These provisions entail the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Previously, the cypher trial had started inside the Adiala jail but an IHC division bench later annulled all those proceedings, ordering a fresh open court trial.


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