Attock, Pakistan – In a recent development, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act has extended the judicial remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and the party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi until September 26 in the cipher case.
Imran Khan has been in jail since August 5 following his conviction in the Toshakhana case for not properly declaring gifts he received while in office. Although the Islamabad High Court (IHC) overturned a lower court’s decision to imprison him for three years and imposed a fine, Imran Khan remains behind bars due to his arrest in the cipher case.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the former prime minister and former foreign minister last month, booking them under the Official Secrets Act.
During the recent hearing, Judge Zulqarnain instructed the FIA to submit a challan (formal charge) on September 26 in the cipher case.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi was taken into custody on August 19 in Islamabad in connection with the same case, while Imran Khan was arrested in the cipher case while serving his sentence in Attock jail.
According to the FIR registered against the PTI leaders, it is alleged that they shared information from a classified document (Cipher Telegram received from Parep. Washington dated 7th March, 2022 to Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs) with unauthorized individuals, twisting facts for personal gain and potentially endangering state security.
The Law Ministry established the special court under the Official Secrets Act to handle the cipher case, with Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Zulqarnain presiding.
Outside the court, Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to the media, asserting that his party has never betrayed the country and will not do so in the future. He stated that if he had betrayed the country, he should be hanged. Qureshi also emphasized that Imran Khan is irreplaceable as PTI chief.
Amidst the ongoing legal proceedings, Qureshi called for transparent elections in Pakistan and denied any involvement in the May 9 riots, citing his care for his ailing wife at the time.
The cipher case traces back to March 2022 when Imran Khan claimed that a foreign nation’s letter suggested his government’s removal from power. He later named the United States as the nation behind it. The controversy escalated when his principal secretary, Azam Khan, stated that Imran Khan used the US cipher for political gain and to deflect a vote of no-confidence against him.
The case took a serious turn as Azam Khan disclosed that the cipher was used in political gatherings by Imran Khan to create a narrative against the establishment and opposition, emphasizing “foreign involvement” in the no-confidence motion.
With the extension of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s judicial remand, the cipher case continues to unfold, raising questions about the alleged misuse of classified information for political purposes.