South Asia and Beyond

Can This Verdict End Imran Khan’s Political Career?

 Can This Verdict End Imran Khan’s Political Career?

A special court sentenced former Pakistan PM Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in jail. The verdict comes a week prior to the February 8 general elections where Khan’s party is contesting without an election symbol and amid a state crackdown.

This is Khan’s second conviction after being previously convicted in the Toshakhana case on August 5.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) issued a statement on X following the judgment and said that the party stood with both Imran and Qureshi. It termed the “trial as a complete mockery and disregard of the law”.

What is the case?

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document that investigative agencies allege was never returned by Khan. Officials say that they had violated the Official Secrets Act by disclosing the contents of a secret diplomatic cable — termed the cipher — which was sent by Pakistan’s embassy in Washington in March last year.

The PTI has long held that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister.

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In March 2022, a month before the former cricketer was ousted from power in a vote of no confidence. Khan had appeared on stage, waving a piece of paper that he says showed a foreign conspiracy against him.

Khan had said that “all will be forgiven if Khan is removed from power.”

Last month, a special court had begun the trial afresh. Both Qureshi and Khan are behind bars in different cases.

Khan had termed the trial as nothing less than a “joke” because the prosecution and defence team both belonged to the government. During the hearing of the case, senior lawyers from Khan’s party were not allowed to be present and cross-examine witnesses.

Khan is fighting scores of cases in various courts.

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