PTI founder Imran Khan challenges ciphergate case in IHC

2 months ago 57
In this file photo, former prime minister Imran Khan holds what he said was a cipher which is proof of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him from office during a rally in Islamabad in March 2022. — Twitter/@MuzamilChang In this file photo, former prime minister Imran Khan holds what he said was a cipher which is proof of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him from office during a rally in Islamabad in March 2022. — Twitter/@MuzamilChang

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan Tuesday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his indictment in the cipher case and the entire proceedings by the special court, established under the Official Secrets Act.

On December 12, the special court indicted the former prime minister — who was removed from power via a no-confidence vote last year — in the diplomatic cable case.

In his fresh petition, the PTI supremo said: “The learned trial court, while deciding the matter discussed in the petition, did not look into the true perspective of the facts and law which makes the impugned order and proceedings since 23/11/23 illegitimate/not-maintainable in the eye of law and liable to be set aside for the proper dispensation of justice.”

He pleaded with the court to declare the December 12 order of the special court null and void.

“[…] It is graciously prayed that the petition in hand may very kindly be accepted while setting aside/declaring illegal, the order dated 12.12.23 by the learned trial court illegally/unauthorisedly while disobeying the law and legislature and preferred the wishes and whims of prosecution respectively in the interest of justice.”

The deposed premier further prayed that the operation of the impugned December 12 order and proceedings before the trial court be suspended in the “interest of justice” till the decision of the fresh petition.

“Any other relief, which this honourable court deems fit and proper, may also be granted,” read the petition.

Terming his trial “illegal and unlawful”, Khan urged the high court to discharge him from the case.

Meanwhile, the high court set December 20 as the date to hear the petition. IHC’s Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will take up the plea tomorrow (Wednesday).

The case

The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 — while addressing a public rally waved a letter before the crowd, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation that had conspired with his political rivals to have PTI government overthrown.

He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor did he mention the name of the nation it came from. But a few days later, he accused the United States of conspiring against him and alleged that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal.

The cipher was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Majeed's meeting with Lu.

The former prime minister, claiming that he was reading contents from the cipher, said that "all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power".

Then on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a "strong demarche" to the US for its "blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan".

Later, after his removal, then-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a meeting of the NSC, which came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cable.

In the two audio leaks that took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these events, the former prime minister, then-federal minister Asad Umar, and then-principle secretary Azam could allegedly be heard discussing the US cipher and how to use it to their advantage.

On September 30, the federal cabinet took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leaks.

In October, the cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former prime minister and handed over the case to the FIA.

Once FIA was given the task to probe the matter, it summoned Khan, Umar, and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and secured a stay order from the court.

The Lahore High Court (LHC), in July this year, recalled the stay order against the call-up notice to Khan by the FIA.