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

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

Earlier sentenced to 10 years each in prison in January of this year, Khan and Qureshi’s acquittal in this case does not immediately grant them freedom, as they are currently detained in connection with other legal matters.

Khan, the ousted prime minister deposed via an opposition no-confidence motion in April 2022, has faced multiple charges ranging from corruption to terrorism since his removal from office. He has been incarcerated since August of last year following sentencing in the Toshakhana case, as well as convictions in other cases, including cipher and illegal marriage charges.

Despite the relief in the cipher case, Khan’s imprisonment persists due to his conviction in an illegal marriage case. Similarly, Qureshi, who served as foreign minister during the PTI tenure from 2018 to 2022, faces eight cases filed last week related to May 9 incidents.

Both PTI leaders are currently detained in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

Responding to the verdict, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan expressed hope for Imran Khan’s imminent release, stating that the conclusion of a “baseless case” marks a step towards freedom. Lawyer Ali Zafar echoed similar sentiments in a TV interview, predicting acquittals in Khan’s other ongoing cases.

Political analyst Mazhar Abbas acknowledged the significance of the verdict as a “huge political and legal victory,” yet cautioned against premature assumptions about Khan’s release, given his involvement in other pending cases, including charges of inciting violence against the state.

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