A court in Rawalpindi announced a verdict in the Cipher case at the prison where Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in a graft case.
Khan, ousted through a no-confidence vote in April 2022, faces a 10-year sentence in this case along with his deputy, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The verdict comes just before the parliamentary elections on February 8, where Khan is disqualified from running due to his criminal conviction.
Despite his absence from the ballot, Khan remains a significant political force with a considerable grassroots following and anti-establishment stance. He claims the legal cases against him are part of a plot to sideline him before the elections.
The Cipher case is one of over 150 pending against Khan, ranging from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence.
The case involves Khan allegedly waving a confidential document, referred to as Cipher, during a rally after his ousting, claiming it proved he was being threatened and that his removal was a U.S. conspiracy executed by the military and the government in Pakistan.
The document, purportedly diplomatic correspondence, has not been made public. Pakistan’s independent human rights commission has expressed concerns about the upcoming elections, citing “pre-poll rigging” and the rejection of candidacies of Khan and senior figures from his party.