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Pakistan: Jailed ex-PM Imran Khan, deputy Qureshi to be indicted in cipher case on Oct 17

Imran Khan has moved the Islamabad High Court against the cipher case trial. He has been imprisoned since his conviction and three-year sentence in the Toshakhana corruption case, which was suspended by the IHC.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: October 09, 2023 20:20 IST
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Image Source : PTI Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be indicted in the cipher case on October 17, decided a special court created under the Official Secrets Act on Monday.

The decision was announced during a hearing at the Adiala Jail today, where Imran and ex-foreign minister Qureshi were presented along with a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team, Dawn reported. The copies of FIA's chargesheet in the case were provided to Imran and Qureshi.

The judicial remand of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders was extended till October 10 as per the orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The PTI chief was shifted to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi from Punjab's Attock jail.

The FIA submitted a chargesheet to the court declaring the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and vice-president 'guilty' in the alleged disclosure of state secrets.

The FIA has requested the special court to start the trial and sentence them in accordance with the law. Additionally, PTI's former general secretary Asad Umar's name has not been added to the list of accused. Imran's former principal secretary Azam Khan has been named as a "strong witness" in the case.

The FIA also attached the transcript of the PTI chief and Qureshi's speech on March 27 when Imran brandished a letter in public, claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation that wanted to oust his government from power. Imran was ousted by a no-confidence motion in 2022.

The former premier moved the IHC against the trial in the cipher case and also sought the suspension of the trial court's verdict in the Toshakhana corruption case, in which he was convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

Imran protested against 'inhumane treatment'

Imran Khan's lawyer Salman Safdar said after the hearing that the ex-PM "strongly protested against the inhumane treatment" against him and that he did not accept or sign the copies of the case.

He claimed to only seek facilities "as per the jail manual" and wanted "movement and exercise" in his cell, Safdar said. The PTI chief's team would challenge Monday's "one-sided order" of distributing copies.

Safdar said the PTI chairman was energetic in his imprisonment but his “blood pressure was high due to the injustices” against him. He also objected to the jail trial “under the premise of security concerns” and demanded an open hearing in the cipher case.

Meanwhile, the special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain made a surprise visit on Monday to the jailrooms where both PTI leaders are incarcerated. He said that Imran complained about the lack of walking space in his cell.

“A bathroom is also connected with the cell. There is a clean environment,” the judge said, while criticising the former PM for not signing copies of the case. “When he has taken the copies of the challan, not signing them is inappropriate,” he added.

What is the cipher case?

Last year, Imran Khan alleged that the US orchestrated a plan to remove him from office and brandished a cipher at a public rally to back his claims. The US has time and again denied such allegations, terming them "categorically false".

According to Khan's then-principal secretary Azam Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief was allegedly “euphoric” after seeing the cipher and decided to use it to build an “anti-establishment narrative” on the back of a "blunder" committed by the US. 

“The cipher copy was retained by Imran Khan and the next day (March 10) when he asked for it, Imran Khan replied that he has misplaced it,” the confession statement said, adding that the PTI chief did not return the original cipher despite repeated requests.

On September 30, 2022, the federal cabinet of Pakistan under Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leaks. The FIA summoned Khan, Umar and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief secured a stay order against such summons.

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Former PM Imran Khan 'mentally tortured' in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, claims lawyer

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