RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and PTI’s vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday expressed no-confidence over state defence counsels appointed by the special court hearing the cipher case against them.

The special court judge, Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, on Friday last at Adiala jail reserved its verdict on the prosecution’s plea to close the right of defence of conducting cross-examination of witnesses. The court while announcing its reserved verdict appointed state counsels for both the accused due to the non-appearance of their lawyers.

The court order says that when the hearing of the case started on Friday, no senior counsel appeared on behalf of the accused; even after the break, no senior counsel of the accused appeared. In view of the facts and circumstances, the lawyers of the accused were given several opportunities and the court was left with no option but to appoint a state defence counsel for the accused.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrested from Adiala Jail

It says that a list of lawyers was requested from the advocate general through email, and the office of Advocate General Islamabad responded via letter and provided the names of qualified lawyers in the letter. Malik Abdul Rehman advocate has been appointed as state defence council for PTI founder while Hazrat Yunus advocate has been appointed as state defence council for Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Jail authorities produced Imran Khan and Qureshi before the court. The lead counsel of both the accused did not appear before the court; however, their associates, Usman Gul and Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry appeared before the court.

Following the directions of the court both the state defence counsels appointed by the court appeared before it. At the start of the hearing, the PTI founder and judge exchange harsh words. Both Khan and Qureshi expressed no confidence in the defence counsels provided by the state. During the hearing, Qureshi snatched the case file from the state defence counsel and threw it on the wall. The lawyers, over whom we have no confidence, how they can represent us, both Khan and Qureshi told the court. We neither know them nor seen them; how they will defend us, they further said.

The judge said that as much relief he could grant, he has given it. I have approved your applications seeking a meeting with lawyers, the judge said, adding that currently, over 75 applications have been filed seeking a meeting with lawyers pending before it.

To this, Khan told the judge that you ordered to allow us to meet lawyers but we were not permitted to meet with our legal team.

Prosecution and defence both come from the government which is nothing but a joke, Khan said, adding that we have no right to peruse our case through our own lawyers. What is happening here is totally against the prerequisites of a transparent trial, he said.

Khan said that there has never been a trial in the history of Pakistan compared to this trial.

Qureshi said that our lawyers have not been allowed to enter into the jail. You can not stop anyone in an open trial, he said. “Do we not have any right to argue the case through our lawyers?”

He said that the counsels selected by the prosecution have been appointed for our defence. “It clearly shows that the decision has already been made against us”, he said.

The judge told Qureshi if you wanted to conduct cross-examination of the witnesses then you could do it. It was easy for me to deprive you of your right of defence but even then I appointed state counsels, the judge said.

Khan and Qureshi requested the court to allow them to contact their lead counsels. The court approved the request of both the accused and issued directions to the superintendent of Adiala jail in this regard. The court took a short break and media persons were asked to leave the courtroom.

Qureshi requested the court to allow him to talk to Barrister Gohar Ali. The court allowed him to talk to Barrister Gohar. PTI founder requested the court to allow him to talk to his lead counsel Sikandar Zulqarnain and the court approved his request.

After the break, state defence counsel reportedly conducted cross-examination of nine prosecution witnesses.

Khan and Qureshi were present in the court room during cross-examination of the witnesses. The court adjourned hearing of the case till January 29.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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