Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Face Charges in Cipher Case on December 12

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his close aide ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be indicted in the cipher case on December 12, according to a special court judge.

The cipher case is based on an alleged leak of a secret diplomatic cable from the Pakistani embassy in Washington in March 2022, which contained details of a meeting between US State Department officials and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) accused Imran Khan and Qureshi of misusing the contents of the cipher to create a narrative that their government was ousted in April 2022 due to a conspiracy hatched by the US, a charge denied by Washington.

Imran Khan and Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed that they were being victimized by the powerful military and its civilian allies, who orchestrated the no-confidence vote against Imran Khan in Parliament with the backing of the US.

The special court, headed by Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqernain, has been conducting the proceedings in the cipher case in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where Imran Khan and Qureshi are currently detained on judicial remand.

The judge distributed copies of the investigation report among the suspects on Saturday and expressed displeasure over the late arrival of Imran Khan’s lawyer, who blamed the fog for the delay.

Imran Khan told the court that he would call former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and a representative from the American embassy in Islamabad as witnesses in the case.

He also said that he ordered an inquiry into the cipher as the prime minister and alleged that efforts were being made to save some powerful people who were involved in the case.

He further said that he and Qureshi were being treated like “goats” while former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted in a corruption case, was brought back from abroad.

Qureshi also raised objections to the court proceedings and argued that legal requirements were not fulfilled in the notification issued for the jail trial against Imran Khan.

He said that the trial should not proceed until a fresh notification was issued.

He also questioned whether the trial was being conducted under the Official Secrets Act 1923 or 2023 and said that there were never any security threats to him as he used to travel in his car all by himself.

He requested that President Arif Alvi be summoned to court and take an oath to tell whether he approved the amendments to the Official Secrets Act or not.

He said that the president had disowned the amendments and that the trial was based on a case that had no basis.

The judge dismissed the objections of the suspects and said that the high court’s divisional bench had declared the notification of appointment of the judge as valid.

He also said that the media and the public were present in the hearing and that the suspects were not produced in court due to security concerns.

He said that the trial of Imran Khan and Qureshi could not be separated as the case was interlinked and that the trial was being conducted under sections 9 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act.

He said that the court would proceed on merit and adjourned the hearing till December 12, when the indictment of the suspects is expected to take place.

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