Cipher case | Pakistan court adjourns former PM Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s indictment till October 23

Imran Khan. File

Imran Khan. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Shah Mehmood Qureshi. File

Shah Mehmood Qureshi. File
| Photo Credit:

A special court in Pakistan, on October 17, adjourned till October 23 the indictment of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case for allegedly violating the secret laws of the country.

The case pertains to a secret diplomatic document that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan used to criticise his opponents for allegedly orchestrating his ouster from power in April last year.

The document reportedly went missing from his possession. Imran Khan's party alleges that the document contained a threat from the U.S. to oust Mr. Khan from office.

The special court set up by the government held the in-camera hearing at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail after the Islamabad High Court on October 16 rejected a plea by Mr. Khan against holding his trial in jail.

Judge Abual Hasanat Zulqernain adjourned hearing till October 23 with the remarks that Mr. Khan and former Foreign Minister Qureshi would be indicted on that day.

Barrister Salman Safdar and Khalid Yousuf Chaudhry were present as 71-year-old Khan’s counsels, the Dawn newspaper reported. “Mr. Qureshi’s wife and daughter also reached the court. However, it was not confirmed whether they were allowed to attend the hearing,” it said.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) special prosecutor Shah Khawar, Mr. Khan, Mr. Qureshi and their legal teams were all present during the hearing. Mr. Khawar told journalists that the indictment proceedings will take place next Monday (October 23), Geo News reported.

“On October 23, the charges will be framed and the indictment will be filed. After the indictment, the regular trial of the cipher case will begin,” he said. As per the court’s orders of October 9, both PTI leaders were expected to be indicted in the case on Tuesday.

However, the indictment could not take place on Tuesday with the court only distributing the copies of the challan (charge sheet) among the suspects. Speaking to the media after the hearing, lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat said that Mr. Khan and Mr. Qureshi will now be indicted during the next hearing.

Imran Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. He was incarcerated on August 5 this year, after an Islamabad court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case. The PTI chief was lodged in the Attock District Jail to serve his prison term.

Later, his sentence was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, but then he was arrested in the cipher case.

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