Special Court summons Imran, Qureshi on 4th in Cipher case

ISLAMABAD: The Official Secrets Act court issued notices for October 4 to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cypher case on Monday. The development came as the court of Judge Abul Hasnaat Zulqarnain officially began hearing the case following the submission of the Federal Investigation Agency’s challan, naming the two PTI leaders as accused.
Earlier last week, the FIA claimed that former prime minister Imran had violated the Official Secrets Act, 1923 by unlawfully keeping a diplomatic cypher in his possession, and therefore deserves to be punished under the law.
In its charge-sheet, submitted to a special court two days ago, the agency also accused Qureshi of facil-itating Imran while also mentioning his March 27, 2022 speech at a public rally in Islamabad.
Declaring both of them guilty of violating the Official Secrets Act, the FIA requested the special court judge to try the top PTI leaders and punish them.
On March 27, 2022, before facing a vote of no-confidence that led to his removal, former premier Im-ran had taken out a piece of paper – allegedly a diplomatic cypher – from his pocket and displayed it at a public rally, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” to topple his government.
The FIA initiated its probe into the so-called ‘cypher-gate’ on July 19, 2023, after the PML-N-led coali-tion government announced an official inquiry against the former PM and his close associates for vio-lating the Official Secrets Act, 1923, by misusing a classified document.
Qureshi, who had served as the country’s foreign minister during the PTI’s rule, was arrested by the FIA on August 19. The agency arrested Imran on August 29.
Interestingly, the FIA did not include PTI former secretary general Asad Umar among the accused.
However, Imran’s former principal secretary Azam Khan has been named as one of the witnesses in the case and his testimony under Sections 161 and 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is attached with the charge-sheet.
The charge-sheet also includes transcripts of the speeches that Imran and Qureshi delivered at the March 27, 2022 rally. Additionally, the FIA has also submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court, with statements of 27 of them attached to the challan.
The witnesses include former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood as well as Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Timrizi. According to sources, copies of the charge-sheet are likely to be provided to Imran and Qureshi at the next court hearing. The court will indict the accused after that.
Responding to the charge-sheet, the PTO spokesperson “unequivocally rejected the charges present-ed by the FIA, terming the submitted challan “devoid of substance”.
He lambasted the charges levelled against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, asserting that the allegations were “as hollow as the purported cypher case itself”. –Agencies