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Pakistan court sentences ex-PM Imran Khan to 10 years in prison

January 30, 2024 at 8:42 pm

Former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. [Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images]

Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of leaking official secrets, following a trial which he and his supporters criticise as a sham and merely political.

Pakistan’s judiciary, this week, sentenced Khan over the alleged disappearance of a diplomatic cable under his possession, which the former Prime Minister publicly cited as proof that the United States and the Pakistani military conspired to topple him from power back in 2022, shortly before the military and political figures’ ousting of him.

Khan has denied taking the leaked cable from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, previously insisting that its contents had appeared in the media from other sources.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi – former foreign minister under Khan and a key figure in their Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party – was also sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in the same case under the country’s official secrets act.

The former Premier’s legal team has criticised the trial as unconstitutional, as it was held in the prison in Rawalpindi where Khan was being detained, instead of in a courtroom. Both the prosecution and defence teams also consisted of government-appointed lawyers, with the court forbidding his lawyers from cross-examining witnesses and refusing his request for senior army figures to testify as witnesses.

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The sentence is the harshest to be imposed upon Khan since, in the numerous attempts by the country’s military establishment to prosecute him after he began openly criticising it following his ousting almost two years ago. There are expected to be further charges and sentences imposed on him in coming months, with at least dozens of other cases being levied against him.

The prosecution of the former Pakistani Premier is seen by many as a direct attempt to stifle his and Qureshi’s political careers, with the latter, in particular, having been set to run in the country’s upcoming elections on 8 February. The sentence, however, means that he is now officially disqualified from politics.

According to Pakistani media outlets, Khan’s former adviser, Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, stated that “It was obvious that it was a pre-determined decision and verdict, Imran Khan’s legal team was not even given a chance to speak. This was only done in such a rush to convict Imran Khan prior to the upcoming election. The hearings were not done lawfully and we will challenge it in the High Court.”