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Imran Khan and Qureshi Summoned in Cipher Case

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A special court convened under the Official Secrets Act has issued a summons for former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi to appear on October 4 in the cipher case. This decision follows the submission of a charge sheet by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) just two days ago.

Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain, presiding over the special court, cited the sufficiency of witness statements as grounds to summon the accused. The judge has instructed the superintendent of Adiala jail to ensure the presence of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in court on October 4, Wednesday.

The FIA’s charge sheet submitted earlier states that both the former prime minister and former foreign minister are implicated in the cipher case. The FIA has urged the court to conduct their trial and impose sentences accordingly.

It is worth noting that the former PTI secretary-general, Asad Umar, has not been included in the list of accused. Instead, Imran Khan’s former principal secretary, Azam Khan, is identified as a “strong witness” in the case. Azam Khan’s statements, recorded under Sections 161 and 164, have been appended to the charge sheet. According to sources, the PTI chief retained possession of the cipher, purportedly misusing it as a state secret.

The FIA has further submitted a transcript of Khan and Qureshi’s speech on March 27, a day when Imran Khan brandished a letter claiming it was a cipher from an undisclosed foreign nation, allegedly conspiring against his government. This incident led to a series of events and accusations that captured national attention.

Additionally, the FIA has presented a roster of 28 witnesses, all of whom have had their statements recorded under Section 161. Notably, this list includes former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood, and the then additional foreign secretary, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi.

Read More: FIA Submits Challan in Cipher Case Against PTI Chairman

The cipher case, commonly referred to as “Ciphergate,” originated on March 27, 2022, when Imran Khan, while addressing a public rally, brandished a letter before the audience, claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation that had allegedly conspired with his political rivals to overthrow the PTI government. The contents of the letter were never disclosed, nor was the name of the foreign nation mentioned. This episode triggered a series of allegations and controversies.

In light of these events, the National Security Committee (NSC) addressed the matter and issued a “strong demarche” to the United States, expressing concerns about interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

Subsequently, after Imran Khan’s removal from office, an audio leak surfaced in which Khan, then-federal minister Asad Umar, and then-principal secretary Azam Khan allegedly discussed the US cipher and how to leverage it.

The federal cabinet later initiated an inquiry into the audio leaks, eventually handing over the case to the FIA. Imran Khan challenged the FIA’s summons initially but later faced legal proceedings. In July this year, the Lahore High Court recalled the stay order against the FIA’s call-up notice to Khan.

The upcoming court appearance on October 4 adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing Ciphergate controversy, which continues to reverberate through Pakistan’s political landscape.

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