Will Imran and Qureshi walk free after acquittal in cipher case?

IHC overturns top PTI leaders' conviction in cipher case containing charges of leaking state secrets

Will Imran and Qureshi walk free after acquittal in cipher case?
PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi (left) and party founder Imran Khan. — Screengrab/GeoNews/AFP/File

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and party’s Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi secured major relief in the cipher case as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) acquitted them of charges of leaking state secrets and misusing a diplomatic classified document.

Both the leaders were sentenced to 10 years each in prison in the case in January this year.

Despite being acquitted in the case, Khan and Qureshi are unlikely to walk free from prison as they both are incarcerated in other cases as well.

Khan, the deposed prime minister who was ousted from power via the opposition's no-confidence motion in April 2022, has been facing a slew of charges ranging from corruption to terrorism since his removal as the premier.

He has been behind bars since August last year after he was sentenced in the Toshakhana case and subsequently convicted in other cases as well including cipher and illegal marriage cases.

Due to his conviction in an illegal marriage case, the former premier will remain behind bars despite securing relief in several cases.

Similarly, Qureshi, who was foreign minister during the PTI tenure from 2018-2022, was booked in eight cases related to May 9 last week.

Both party leaders are currently incarcerated in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

Reacting to the verdict, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan hoped that the party founder would soon walk free from the prison as a “baseless case came to its conclusion”.

"We will celebrate this victory," another one of his lawyers, Ali Zafar, said in a TV interview, adding that the other cases faced by Khan would result in acquittals too.

"It's a huge political and legal victory," journalist and political analyst Mazhar Abbas told Reuters, but cautioned that it would be premature to say that Khan would be released anytime soon.

Khan is also named as an accused in several other cases, including charges of inciting violence against the state.