Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been handed a 10-year jail sentence for allegedly leaking confidential state information, compounding his current three-year incarceration on corruption charges. This latest verdict arrives just as the nation braces for its general elections, slated for February 8, casting a long shadow over the democratic process.
The case, widely referred to as the “cipher case,” centers on the purported exposure of a secret diplomatic cable from Pakistan’s envoy in the U.S. to the Islamabad headquarters during Khan’s tenure as premier. The controversy ignited when Khan, at a 2022 rally, brandished a document he claimed evidenced a foreign plot against his administration, insinuating U.S. involvement without explicit attribution.
Prosecutors argued that Khan’s disclosure of the classified document severely compromised Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, an offense that could warrant life imprisonment or the death penalty. The trial, confined within the prison’s special court and shrouded in secrecy from international media, hastened toward conclusion under judicial directives.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, with Shah Mahmood Qureshi also receiving a 10-year sentence, announced intentions to appeal the verdict, criticizing it as a travesty of justice. As the elections loom, PTI decries systematic efforts to thwart its campaign, with Khan embroiled in numerous legal battles, raising questions about fairness and the integrity of the electoral process in Pakistan.