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Islamabad High Court Nullifies Imran Khan’s Conviction in Cipher Case

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In a significant turn of events, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has nullified the conviction of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cypher case under the Official Secrets Act. The announcement came in a short verdict by IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, marking a major relief for the PTI and its supporters.

The cypher case, for which Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this year, is based on serious allegations that the former prime minister disclosed the contents of a secret cable sent by the country’s ambassador in Washington to the government in Islamabad.

The controversy, known as “ciphergate,” initially surfaced when, in a public rally in March 2022, Imran Khan displayed a letter to the crowd, claiming it was a cypher from a foreign nation involved in a conspiracy against his government. Despite not divulging the contents of the letter or naming the nation it originated from, Khan later accused the United States of plotting against him and implicated Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs, Donald Lu, in seeking his removal.

The cypher reportedly detailed a meeting between Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US and Lu. Imran Khan purportedly cited the contents of the cypher, asserting that “all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power.”

Following the incident, the National Security Committee (NSC) intervened and decided to issue a strong protest to the US for its alleged interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Subsequently, a meeting of the NSC under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif concluded that no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cable was found.

Later, audio leaks emerged, stirring public attention, featuring purported discussions about how to leverage the US cipher for their benefit, involving the former prime minister, then-Federal Minister Asad Umar, and then-Principal Secretary Azam.

The IHC’s decision to nullify the convictions in the cipher case represents a significant development in this high-profile political saga, signaling a shift in the legal proceedings and sparking discussions about its potential far-reaching implicatio

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