ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court judge on Tuesday recused himself from hearing a set of appeals in chamber against court office’s objections to the petitions seeking a probe into a cipher cited as an evidence of alleged foreign conspiracy to topple the government of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, who had taken up the appeals in his chamber, referred the matter back to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial for placing them before a different judge, citing personal reasons.

The petitions were filed by Advocate Zulfikar Ahmed Bhutta, Syed Tariq Baddar and Naeemul Hassan. During the chamber hearing, Advocate Bhutta argued that the matter was very sensitive since it may threaten the security of foreigners living in Pakistan.

In his petition, Mr Bhutta had requested the apex court to order placing the cipher before the civil and military authorities concerned to investigate the letter waved by the PTI chairman at a public meeting on March 27, 2022.

He had argued that a probe into the issue was necessary as it was a matter of national interest since the indirect message related to the security of the country and might pose a threat to the foreigners and ambassadors living in Pakistan.

The petition feared that the letter shown by the former prime minister had created doubts about some friendly countries and made subject matter of every political gathering as if the affairs of Pakistan were controlled by the foreign countries.

“This is not an ordinary rather an extraordinary situation which may create hatred against foreign countries also endanger their embassies due to the law and order situation. Such a situation is not conducive for maintaining peace and may become harmful and embarrassing and damaging friendly relations with foreign countries,” it contended.

The petition cited Article 40 of the Constitution which asks for strengthening bonds with the Muslim world and promoting national peace.

The provision requires the government to endeavour, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic unity, support common interests, promote international peace and security, foster goodwill and friendly relations among all nations and encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.

“The probe into the letter may help in digging out the real purpose and truth behind the cipher,” the petition contended.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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