- Qureshi, Khan filed a petition under CrPC 265-D to stay the prosecution.
- The judge rejected the plea and proceeded with the indictment.
- The court has issued notice to the witnesses to appear on October 27.
ISLAMABAD: A special court constituted to hear the secret case registered under the Official Secrets Act on Monday convicted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PT) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The case was heard by special court judge Abul Hasnat Zulkarnain at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail.
Both the PTI leaders were convicted after filing a petition under CrPC 265-D to stop the prosecution. The judge rejected the petitions, saying the hearing was fixed for the arraignment and proceeded with that.
Once charges are framed, the prosecution’s evidence is recorded and the trial of the case begins. After this, the testimony and statements of the accused are recorded by the court.
As per procedure, the court issued notice to the witnesses to appear on October 27 and adjourned the hearing till then.
According to sources, Qureshi and Khan have declared themselves unperturbed by the allegations.
In the last hearing on October 17, the arraignment of both the PTI leaders was postponed till today as copies of the challan presented by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against the PTI leaders were provided to the accused.
Judge Zulqarnain had scheduled the indictment for next week because the accused lawyers had refused to receive copies of the challan before the hearing on October 17.
In August this year, Khan and Qureshi were booked under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the Cipher case after the FIA invoked Section 5 of the said law. Diplomatic cables reportedly went missing from Imran. According to the former ruling party, the cable contained a threat from America to topple the PTI government.
Khan and Qureshi are currently in Adiala jail on judicial remand in the cipher case.
On August 5, 2023, Khan was taken into custody after being sentenced to three years in jail in the Toshakhana case. Initially, he was kept in Attock jail but later he was shifted to Adiala jail.
It is pertinent to mention here that the IHC had on August 29 suspended the sentence awarded to the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana case.
FIA charge sheet
The FIA, in its challan, said the former prime minister and vice president were found guilty in the case and requested the court to try them in the case and punish them.
According to sources, the name of former PTI general secretary Asad Umar has not been added to the list of accused. Meanwhile, Khan’s former principal secretary Azam Khan was also named as a “strong witness” in the case.
The FIA also attached Azam’s statements recorded under sections 161 and 164 along with the challan, sources said, adding that the PTI chief kept the cipher with himself and misused the state secret.
Sources also said that Khan had a copy of the cipher but did not return it.
Additionally, the FIA also attached the transcript of Khan and Qureshi’s speech on March 27 – the day when the former prime minister presented a letter claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which wanted His government should be removed from power.
The agency also submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court along with the challan after recording their statements under Section 161.
Sources further said that the names of former Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood and then Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi have also been added to the list of witnesses.
What is ciphergate?
The controversy first came to light on March 27, 2022, when Khan – less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 – addressed a public rally and waved a letter in front of the crowd, claiming it was a It was the cipher of a foreign nation who had hatched the conspiracy. His political rivals overthrew the PTI government.
He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor did he reveal the name of the country from where the letter came. But days later, he accused the United States of plotting against him and alleged that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu had sought his removal.
The reference was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Majid Ki meeting with Lu.
The former prime minister claimed that he was reading material from the cipher, adding that “if Imran Khan is removed from power then everything will be forgiven for Pakistan”.
Then on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the US for its “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.
Later, after his removal, then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called a meeting of the NSC, which concluded that it had found no evidence of any foreign conspiracy in the cables.
In two audio leaks, which took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these incidents, the former prime minister, then federal minister Asad Umar and then principal secretary Azam were allegedly seen discussing the US cipher and how to use it. can be heard. For their benefit.
On September 30, the federal cabinet took note of the matter and constituted a committee to investigate the contents of the audio leak.
In October, the Cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former Prime Minister and handed over the case to the FIA.
Once the FIA was tasked to investigate the case, it summoned Khan, Omar and other party leaders, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and obtained a stay order from the court.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) withdrew the stay order against the call-up notice to Khan by the FIA in July this year.