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ISLAMABAD: A special court, on Wednesday, extended the judicial remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till September 13 in the cipher case registered against him and his other party leaders under Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

The special court judge, Abual-Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain, who was recently appointed to hear the cases registered under the Official Secrets Act from across the country, directed the authorities of Attock District Jail, hours after Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended Khan’s sentence in Toshakhana case to keep him in judicial lockup and produce him on August 30 in connection with the cipher case.

However, later, the Ministry of Law issued a notification and said that the Interior Ministry had conveyed security concerns to it in a letter and that the Law and Justice Division had no objection to Khan’s trial in the cipher case being held at Attock jail.

Subsequently, Judge Zulqarnain reached the Attock jail where he held an in-camera hearing of the case in the deputy superintendent’s office. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor Zulfiqar Naqvi and PTI chief’s lawyers Barrister Salman Safdar and Naeem Haider Panjutha appeared before the court.

Khan’s lawyer Barrister Salman Safdar, while talking to reporters outside the jail, claimed that the cipher case against the former premier under the Secrets Act was “baseless”. He said that he had filed a post-bail petition before the court.

Panjutha said that during the hearing, the judge said that the FIA had arrested Khan formally on August 15, and on August 16 requested the court to grant physical remand of the accused, which he had rejected on the ground that physical remand cannot be granted in the absence of the accused. Therefore, the court has sent Khan on judicial remand.

To this, Khan’s legal team told the judge we kept asking court staff whether Khan had been presented for remand but they did not share anything with us. Under Article 10(1) when a person is arrested in a case, he shall be informed that they have arrested him in that case, and under Article 10(2) the same person be presented in the concerned court within 24 hours, but when he asked Imran Khan, he clearly denied and said that he was neither told nor presented before the court, he said.

The agency registered the FIR on August 15 under Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, against Khan, former federal foreign affairs minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for wrongful communication/ use of official secret information and illegal retention of cipher telegram (official secret document) with malafide intention at the complaint of the then secretary Ministry of Interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar.

According to the copy of the FIR, consequent upon the conclusion of the inquiry no 111/2023 upon the complaint registered in the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW), FIA, it transpired that former prime minister namely, Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, former foreign minister namely, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and their other associates are involved in the communication of information contained in secret classified document (Cipher Telegram received from Parep Washington dated March 7, 2022, to Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to the unauthorised persons (i.e., public at large) by twisting the facts to achieve their “ulterior motives” and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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