Pakistan jails its most popular politician, Imran Khan, for 10 Years, just 9 days before election

 January 31, 2024

Tuesday, former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, who was already incarcerated on corruption allegations, received an additional ten years in prison for the alleged mishandling of security documents.

The recent conviction has been made public just nine days prior to the Pakistani election, where Khan, were he not incarcerated, would likely be the leading candidate for prime minister, as Breitbart News reported.

A special court convened under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act to prosecute the "Cipher Case," which pertains to the management of a diplomatic document that gained notoriety in its own right during the summer of 2023, handed down a sentence for Khan.

A March 2022 meeting between U.S. State Department officials and Pakistan's then-ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, was detailed in the classified diplomatic cable.

Political Stance

As per Ambassador Khan's account, the State Department expressed strong displeasure with Prime Minister Khan's stance regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and explicitly desired a replacement for the prime ministerial position.

“I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington because the Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister. Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead,” Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told Ambassador Khan.

The following month, the vote of no confidence was successful, deposing Imran Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan to be removed by such a procedure.

Khan vehemently claimed the diplomatic cable as evidence that his removal was the result of an American-led foreign conspiracy.

There is ongoing debate regarding the credibility of the Cipher Case cable, as the State Department maintains that the Biden administration did not hold a stance on the matter of the prime minister of Pakistan, regardless of the contents of the cable.

Both Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were found to have mismanaged the Cipher Case document by the Pakistani special court, which imposed a ten-year prison sentence on each of them.

The Allegations

Khan faced allegations that he showed the diplomatic dispatch at a political rally in March 2022, prior to the vote of no confidence that resulted in his removal from office, with the intention of presenting it as evidence of an external conspiracy targeting him.

Qureshi, a high-ranking member of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party, faced allegations of divulging a classified government document with the intention of securing political benefit. Both individuals stated they were unaware of the cipher's whereabouts following its disappearance from Khan's office.

Khan had previously received a five-year ban from standing for office from the election commission of Pakistan.

Similar to Khan, Qureshi was incarcerated but had been permitted to seek election to the legislature until Tuesday's judgment, which disqualified him from running for office.

Khan asserted that the ruling was the product of a vindictive plot by foreign powers and the Pakistani military to prevent his re-election. Aleema, his sister, speculated that adversarial forces were "directing" the judge, resulting in the hasty proceeding of the trial prior to the opportunity to summon Pakistani military leaders and U.S. officials as witnesses.

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