Report by Syed Atiq ul Hassan:
Khan and Qureshi Receive 10-Year Jail in US-Linked Cypher Case, through dishonest court proceedings in jail premises
Tribune International (Australia), Tuesday, 30 January 2024. In a stunning and shocking decision, the special court, set-up in jail premises, overseeing the high-profile US-linked cypher case has
delivered a harsh verdict, sentencing former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years imprisonment. The courtroom drama unfolded within the confines of Adiala jail in Rawalpindi (Pakistan), under the jurisdiction of the Official Secrets Act (OSA), leaving the political landscape of Pakistan forever altered.
Presiding over the case, Judge Abul Hasanat Zulqarnain delivered the devastating blow, posing one last question to Imran Khan before pronouncing the sentence—demanding to know the
whereabouts of the elusive cypher. Khan maintained his innocence, emphasizing that the security of the Prime Minister House was not under his purview and vehemently denying any knowledge of the incriminating evidence.
The gravity of the situation became palpable as the judge handed copies of the statement and a questionnaire under Section 342 to both accused leaders. Imran and Qureshi were given the opportunity to pen their final responses before the court, a last desperate attempt to alter the course of their impending fate.
The origins of this tragic saga date back to March 27, 2022, when Imran Khan, in a bold move, displayed a mysterious paper during a rally in Islamabad, alleging it to be evidence of an “international conspiracy.” This revelation came just before a vote of no-confidence that ultimately led to the downfall of his government. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) initiated a probe into the “cypher-gate” on July 19, 2023, after the coalition government officially accused Khan and his associates of violating the OSA.
Imran Khan’s legal troubles intensified when he was arrested on August 5, following his conviction in the Toshakhana case by a local court in Islamabad. Subsequently, on August 29, he faced further charges related to the cypher case. Both Imran and Qureshi were charged under sections 5 and 9 of the OSA, carrying the grim possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The once-prominent political figures witnessed their fate unravel within the confines of the Adiala jail. The cypher trial had initially commenced behind closed doors, but a subsequent decision by an Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench annulled those proceedings. The order for a fresh open court trial only intensified the drama surrounding the case.
As the echoes of the judge’s verdict reverberate across the nation, Pakistan is left grappling with the consequences of this seismic political event. The fall of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi sends shockwaves through the political landscape, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history.
The anticipated legal challenge by PTI lawyers in the high court, and potentially the Supreme Court, underscores the gravity of the decision made by the special court. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the broader context of the Pakistani judiciary’s role, often perceived as intricately linked to the country’s establishment.
In Pakistan, there’s a widely held belief that the Cypher case against Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi has been orchestrated at the behest of the United States. The prevailing sentiment is that the Pakistani establishment is obliged to align its actions with the dictates of the US administration. This perception adds a layer of complexity to the legal proceedings and raises questions about the autonomy of the Pakistani judicial system.
The timing of this decision, just ahead of the so-called national election scheduled for February 8, 2024, adds a significant dimension to the unfolding scenario. The shockwave of this decision is likely to resonate among the 250 million-strong Pakistani nation, impacting the political landscape in the run-up to the elections.
In response to the decision, leaders of the PTI have called for calm among the public, urging them to await the outcome of the upcoming election. The party asserts that once the electoral process is complete, they will decide on the appropriate course of action regarding what they perceive as a questionable decision by the Pakistani judiciary.
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