- PTI chief contends that he is being politically victimised in case.
- Also challenges IHC decision to uphold the indictment in case.
- Imran Khan has moved the petition through lawyer Hamid Khan.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday challenged his indictment by a special court in the cipher case in the Supreme Court.
The former prime minister approached the apex court through his counsel Hamid Khan and has urged the top court to declare the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision to withhold the indictment illegal.
The PTI chief has also urged the court to declare the October 23 order of the special court hearing the cipher case against the constitution and law.
He has also contended before the Supreme Court that he was being politically victimised in the case. The ousted premier added that the state machinery is being used to create fake cases against him.
This is the second petition the PTI chief has filed in the Supreme Court related to the cipher case.
Last week, Imran Khan had filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case.
In his 18-page bail plea, the PTI chief, through his counsel Barrister Salman Safdar, had put before 15 legal questions regarding the cipher case.
Among the questions, Imran wants the Supreme Court to consider whether the courts that rejected his bail plea took into consideration that the cipher case was “politically motivated”. He also questioned the role of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) jurisdiction in the case and its “malafide intentions and ulterior motives”.
The PTI chief and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi were indicted by a special court, formed under the Official Secrets Act, on October 23.
Both the PTI leaders were indicted after they had moved a petition under CrPC 265-D to stop the indictment. The judge while rejecting the petitions stated that the hearing was fixed for indictment and went ahead with it.
Following the indictment, the trial under in the case is underway and the evidence of the prosecution has started being recorded.
However, the PTI chief and his deputy after being indicted had challenged the indictment in the Islamabad High Court. But the IHC on October 26 upheld the special court’s decision and rejected Imran’s argument that the trial court had completed the process of indictment in haste.
In August of this year, Imran and his party vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi were booked under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the cipher case after the FIA invoked Section 5 of the said law. The diplomatic cable reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. According to the former ruling party, the cable contained a threat from the US to topple the PTI’s government.
Imran and Qureshi are currently in Adiala jail in the cipher case.
The former prime minister was taken into custody after being sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case on August 5, 2023. Initially, he was kept in Attock jail but later he was moved to Adiala jail.
It is pertinent to mention here that the IHC on August 29 had suspended the sentence handed down to the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana case.
What is ciphergate?
The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Imran 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 Imran, Asad 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 Imran by the FIA.