Imran Khan’s Trial: Conviction, Controversy, and Crises in Pakistan

Imran Khan's Trial: Conviction, Controversy, and Crises in Pakistan

Pakistan (Parliament Politics Maganize) – Ex-Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan has been convicted to 10 years in jail in a case in which he was charged with revealing state secrets. Imran Khan, deposed by his opponents as PM in 2022, is already serving a three-year jail term after being sentenced for corruption.

He has named all the charges against him as politically motivated. The conviction under the Secrets Act comes the week before general elections in which he is banned from standing.

Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi – vice-chairman of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party – was also sentenced to 10 years in jail by the special court set up inside Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where both men are being kept.

The Cypher case revolves around the alleged leaking of secret diplomatic correspondence transmitted by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington to Islamabad when Khan was prime minister.

It connects to his appearance at a rally in March 2022, a month before the former cricketer was expelled from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Imran Khan emerged on stage, waving a piece of paper that he stated showed a foreign conspiracy against him.

He said, “All will be forgiven if Imran Khan is ousted from power”. He didn’t name the country – but was later highly critical of the United States.

The prosecution stated that the former PM’s actions revealed a classified document and damaged diplomatic relations. The latter charge can usher to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Imran Khan has been kept in Adiala jail most of the time since his detention in August. International media were not permitted to attend proceedings in the special court, which have been going on over the last few months.

Local media stated the judge had recently been disclosed to expedite the trial. A PTI spokesman expressed it would challenge the court ruling and called it a parody. “We don’t accept this illegal decision,” Naeem Panjutha, a lawyer for the former PM who is fighting scores of other legal cases, posted on X.

Another Khan associate told Reuters news agency his legal team had no option to represent him or cross-examine witnesses.

The postponed 8 February election comes amid allegations the PTI is being refused a fair chance to campaign.

The authorities refuse to carry out a crackdown on the PTI, but many of its leaders are now behind bars or have defected, its candidates have to stand as independents, and many are on the run.

Police also rounded up thousands of its followers after protests – at times violent – last May when Imran Khan was first taken into custody. The party has also been stripped of its cricket bat symbol, essential in a country with low literacy rates to allow voters to choose where to mark their ballots.

Many are challenging the credibility of next Thursday’s vote, given the degree to which Imran Khan – still one of Pakistan’s most famous politicians – and his party have been sidelined.

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Three-time former PM Nawaz Sharif, the man pitched to win, returned from self-imposed exile. He’s been a thorn in the side of the powerful military for much of his long career and was imprisoned for corruption ahead of the 2018 election that Imran Khan won. Surprisingly, the tables have turned, and Nawaz Sharif’s court cases have dissolved away, leading many to consider the establishment currently likes him. At the same time, his rival – who used to be seen as close to the military – has fallen out of favour.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.