Infostani International: Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were convicted in a cipher case, facing consequences under the Official Secrets Act. The verdict was criticized by PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan, who hopes to appeal.
Significant Decision: Qureshi and Imran Khan Accused in Cipher Case
On Thursday, the special court issued a detailed judgment in the cipher case, unequivocally establishing that ex-premier Imran Khan, in collaboration with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, severely impacted Pakistan’s international standing, diplomats, and diplomatic reporting culture by compromising the nation’s cipher communications system.
The court sentenced the two key PTI leaders two days ago. Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain authored the judgment, maintaining that the accused’s actions resulted in significant economic and political consequences, weakening Pakistan’s economy and adversely affecting national security.
Under various sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Imran was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under section 5(3)(a) of OSA, two years under section 5(1)(c) of OSA with a fine of Rs1 million, and another two years under section 5(1)(d) of OSA with an additional fine of Rs1 million. Both accused were also held guilty under section 5(3)(a) of OSA read with section 34 PPC, each receiving a 10-year rigorous imprisonment term. Qureshi was additionally held guilty under section 9 read with section 5(3)(a) of OSA. The benefit of section 382-B CrPC was awarded to both convicts, and all sentences are to run concurrently.
Imran Khan’s Breach: Verdict Points to Damage in National Security
The court’s findings rely on tangible evidence of an open-and-shut case, including the receipt of cipher messages supported by the chain of custody and cipher movement registers. The court emphasized the adverse effects of disclosing cipher information, supported by statements from witnesses and technical experts.
The judgment highlighted the accused’s deliberate actions, including unauthorized retention of cipher, negligent handling of telegrams, and the benefit to foreign powers. It also underscored Imran’s public disclosure of confidential information instigated by Qureshi.
The court noted the heavy responsibility of the prime minister to handle confidential information responsibly and stated, “Sadly, the accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, besides committing offenses under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 has also violated his oath.”
The court painfully noted the conduct of both the accused during the proceedings, pointing out their attempts to prolong the trial through legal maneuvers. The accused’s refusal to engage in cross-examination, failure to sign court documents, and overall evasive behavior were deemed unethical and detrimental to the legal process.
The court highlighted that such actions cast a negative impression on the accused’s integrity and sovereignty, damaging Pakistan’s external relations and national security interests.
PTI Chairman Criticizes, Plans High Court Appeal
In conclusion, the court found the former premier and former foreign minister guilty of serious offenses, emphasizing the need for responsible handling of confidential information by high-ranking officials and condemning the accused’s conduct during the legal proceedings.
During the sentencing at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, Judge Abul Hasanat Zulqarnain asked Imran one last time about the cipher before announcing the 10-year imprisonment for both leaders. Imran stated that the Prime Minister House’s security was not his responsibility, and he did not have the cipher.
After recording their statements under Section 342, the court announced the verdict. PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan criticized the verdict, stating that the reality of the cases could not be denied even if Imran and Qureshi were sentenced to death. He expressed hope for the party’s future course of action, mentioning plans to move the high court against the sentence. Gohar urged PTI supporters to remain calm and peaceful, emphasizing the power of votes in the upcoming February 8 elections. He cautioned against falling for any pre-planned acts.