The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has consolidated former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s separate petitions related to the cipher case, which revolves around a diplomatic document allegedly missing from his possession and reportedly containing a threat from the United States to remove him from office. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has asserted that this document is of significant importance. The IHC’s decision to merge Imran Khan’s petitions, seeking a halt to trial court proceedings and the dismissal of the case, marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal battle.
Imran Khan, who was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana graft case on August 5, 2023, was initially transferred to Attock jail. However, the IHC later suspended his sentence. Despite this, Khan remained incarcerated due to his involvement in the cipher case. It was only on September 26 that the IHC accepted Imran’s request for a transfer to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi from Attock district jail.
On September 30, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a charge sheet in the Special Court established under the Official Secrets Act. The charge sheet named the former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as the principal accused in the cipher case.
Imran Khan’s legal team has been proactive in filing several petitions with the IHC. These petitions include one seeking to suspend the Toshakhana verdict, another against his indictment in the cipher case, and a third to halt the jail trial in the cipher case. The latter is set for a hearing on October 17.
Today, during a hearing presided over by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Imran’s request to stay the trial in the cipher case was combined with the main plea seeking the dismissal of the case. Senior lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa, representing Imran Khan, underscored that the petitions were aimed at suspending the trial court proceedings and challenging the special court’s indictment order. He emphasized that the matter is currently under review by the IHC, and the Lahore High Court has also issued a stay order regarding a case brought by the FIA. Khosa voiced his concerns about the application of the Official Secrets Act and called into question the need for secrecy.
The chief justice inquired whether the separate plea should be combined with the plea for case dismissal, and Khosa agreed on the condition that the matter would be addressed before October 17. When asked about the significance of that date, Khosa mentioned the impending trial proceedings and indictment.
Chief Justice Aamer Farooq assured that he would review the matter and issue a decision promptly, committing to scheduling the pleas for a hearing before the October 17 date.
In a separate development, Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjutha, expressed his disappointment with the delay in today’s hearing of his client’s bail plea in the cipher case.
2:35 ہو گئے ہیں لیکن سماعت شروع نہیں ہوئی.
— Naeem Haider Panjutha (@NaeemPanjuthaa) October 12, 2023
In a message shared on X (formerly Twitter), Imran Khan reiterated his commitment to Pakistan, declaring that he would not leave the country “to go anywhere.”
Chairman Imran Khan's message to the people of Pakistan shared through his family on the 10th of October:
“When I was illegally incarcerated in Attock Jail, the first few days were particularly challenging. I wasn’t provided a bed and had to sleep on the floor and had insects…
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 12, 2023
He emphasized his demand for fair and free elections in Pakistan. Imran shared his experiences during his two months in jail, acknowledging the initial challenges he faced, including sleeping on the floor amidst insects and mosquitoes. However, he asserted that he had grown stronger and more resilient throughout his incarceration. He criticized the allegations against him in the cipher case, alleging treason by former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Donald Lu. He urged his supporters not to lose hope, to continue raising their voices against unelected authorities, and to demand transparent elections.
The consolidation of Imran Khan’s legal petitions in the cipher case represents a significant development in the ongoing legal battle. As the case unfolds, the former Prime Minister remains resolute in his commitment to Pakistan and his call for free and fair elections. His message, shared via social media, serves as a testament to his determination and the challenges he has faced during his time in incarceration. The legal proceedings and political landscape in Pakistan continue to be closely watched by observers and supporters alike.