On Tuesday, the Special Court (developed under Official Secrets Act) handed 10 years imprisonment to former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case.
The verdict was announced nine days before the general elections in 2024. Imran had been disqualified from contesting in elections, and the verdict of special court has thwarted Shah Mehmood Qureshi from running for the NA seat despite being eligible to compete from Thar.
The cipher case dealt with a diplomatic document. According to the charge sheet by Federal Investigation Agency Imran never returned the cipher. PTI had been claiming that cipher contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran Khan.
During the hearing, presided by Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi received a questionnaire under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 342 allows power to examine the accused.
Imran recorded his statement regarding the whereabouts of cipher. He stated that the cipher was in his office and did not know about its whereabouts.
Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain sentenced both PTI leaders to 10 years imprisonment. Note that Islamabad High Court had twice declared the trial null and void.
PTI chairman Gohar Khan said that the judgement had been given in haste and the proceedings did not follow the law or constitution. He added that the judge himself carried the cross-examination and no examples in history of the way witnesses were cross-examined.
Gohar Khan asked PTI followers to not react to court orders in any capacity and to remain patient. He showed trust in the Supreme Court and hoped to secure relief.
Earlier, Imran was sentenced to three years imprisonment in the Toshakhana case on August 5 2023. The Islamabad High Court suspended the sentence but a division bench rejected the petition seeking the suspension.