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Ousted from power three times but never revealed any state secret like that of Imran Khan, says Nawaz Sharif

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Lahore, Jan 30 (PTI) Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said he was ousted from power three times but he never revealed any state secret like that of Imran Khan.

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo's comments came after a special court set up under the Official Secrets Act handed down a 10-year jail term to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supremo Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for leaking state secrets.

"Seeing his imminent ouster from power (in April 2022), then prime minister Imran Khan attacked Pakistan by revealing state secrets," Sharif told an election rally in Haroonabad at Bahawalnagar district, some 400 km from Lahore.

Pakistan's major political parties -- PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) -- have hailed the court's decision to jail Khan and Qureshi in the cipher case.

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"I have endured injustices but I never did anything that harmed Pakistan. I never compromised on national security nor did I disclose national secrets like that of Imran Khan who is responsible for putting national security at risk...I was ousted from the office of the prime minister (by the military establishment), but I never revealed any state secret to save my government," Sharif said.

The 73-year-old PML-N leader was ousted from power three times in 1993, 1999 and 2017.

Sharif said he did nuclear tests, while Khan attacked monuments of martyrs.

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The cipher case pertains to a piece of paper, purported to be a diplomatic cable -- the cipher -- that Khan had waved at a public rally on March 27, 2022, and naming the US, had claimed that it was ‘evidence’ of an “international conspiracy” to topple his government.

The case was filed against Khan, 71, and Qureshi, 67, on August 15 last year by the Federal Investigation Agency, which accused both of violating the secrecy laws while handling the cable sent by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022.

Khan was ousted through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

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Addressing the rally, Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz demanded that the state should deal with Khan and his party like that of terrorists.

"Imran Khan should be given treatment which is given to terrorists. Does any political party train its workers in terrorism and provide training to attack national security and security institutions?" she asked, adding today the man who wanted to shut off the air conditioner of Nawaz Sharif in jail is given a 10-year jail term.

Sharif returned to Pakistan in October last year after spending four years in self-exile in the UK. He is being given a PM-designate protocol and his party is considered the most favourite to come to power after the Feb 8 polls in the country, apparently with the support of the military establishment.

Incarcerated Khan has already alleged that the powerful military establishment has favoured Sharif and that he (Khan) is being targeted to prevent him from returning to power. PTI MZ SCY SCY

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