In a shocking development, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan sentenced to 10 years for leaking state secrets ahead of general election by a special court in Pakistan.
This marks the harshest sentence for the popular cricket superstar, just days before the upcoming general election.
The court found Khan, 71, guilty of making public the contents of a secret cable from Pakistan's ambassador in Washington to the Islamabad government.
The cable leak was attributed to Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also received a 10-year sentence in the same case.
This isn't the first time Khan has faced legal consequences. In August, he was sentenced to three years in a corruption case, disqualifying him from participating in the February 8 election.
Khan's lawyer, Naeem Panjutha expressing disagreement with the court's decision.
We don't accept this illegal decision.- Khan's lawyer, Naeem Panjutha
The PTI has announced its intention to challenge the ruling. Khan's legal team raised concerns about the lack of representation and the absence of witness cross-examination during the proceedings held in the maximum-security Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.
Zulfikar Bukhari, a Khan aide, denounced the conviction as an attempt to weaken support for the former prime minister.
People will now make sure they come out and vote in larger numbers.- Zulfikar Bukhari, a Khan aide
Despite the conviction, Ali Zafar, another of Khan's lawyers, expressed optimism about appealing the case, stating on ARY television that the chances of the verdict being overturned were "100%."
The three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party, Khan's main political opponent, criticized the verdict, considering it too lenient.
This is a very light sentence based on his carelessness and crime pertaining to important national interests.- Ahsan Iqbal, a senior Sharif aide
Analysts believe that Khan's sentencing just before the polls will raise questions about the election's credibility. Mazhar Abbas, a Karachi-based analyst, highlighted concerns about the potential impact on Pakistan's political stability.
Khan, who has been fighting numerous cases since his ousting from power in 2022, claims that the secret cable was proof of a conspiracy by the Pakistani military and the U.S. government to topple his government in 2022.
The U.S. State Department refrained from commenting on Khan's imprisonment, emphasizing that it is a matter for Pakistan's courts.
Khan's PTI faced another setback recently when the Election Commission stripped it of its traditional election symbol, the cricket bat. His candidates are now contesting as independents amid what the party calls a crackdown backed by the military, a claim the military denies.
In a message posted on X ahead of the verdict, Khan urged his supporters to vote for candidates backed by him.
This is your war, and this is your test that you have to take revenge for every injustice by your vote on February 8 while remaining peaceful.
As Pakistan grapples with this latest twist in its political saga, the implications for the upcoming election remain uncertain. The unfolding drama raises questions about the intersection of law, politics, and the stability of the nation.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets, just before Pakistan's general election.
This decision adds complexity to the political landscape and raises questions about the intersection of law, politics, and Pakistan's stability.
Khan's party, the PTI, is defying the ruling, raising further concerns about the country's credibility and the country's political landscape.