‘No evidence that cipher was in Imran’s custody’

Published May 1, 2024
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. — File photos
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. — File photos

• IHC asks FIA for proof that ex-PM ‘lost’ document
• Maneka seeks ‘partisan’ judge’s recusal in Iddat case

ISLAMABAD: In a fresh twist in the cipher case, the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday observed that the Federal Investigation Age­ncy (FIA) has nothing on record to prove that former prime minister Imran Khan retained the confidential diplomatic cable, and that it went missing from his possession.

The observation was made by an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurang­zeb, which had resumed hearing appeals filed by Mr Khan and his foreign minister at the time, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, against their conviction in the cipher case.

Earlier, defence counsel Barrister Salman Safdar had submitted a report of the foreign ministry to the IHC containing details of the cipher’s distribution.

The report revealed that almost every recipient of the cipher, inc­l­u­ding the former army chief and the chief justice, returned the confidential document after a case was registered against Imran Khan.

While special prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah was explaining the movement of cipher from the foreign ministry to the PM Office, Justice Farooq asked if there is any record available with FIA, the prosecuting agency, that proves Mr Khan retained the cipher.

“Is there any record of cipher’s movement that it was handed over to the prime minister by the principal secretary?”, asked the chief justice.

Mr Shah replied that Azam Khan, the then-principal secretary, testified before the court that the cipher was handed over to ex-PM Khan and was never returned.

“We believe it’s hearsay,” remarked the chief justice, adding that there was a possibility that the former PM had asked the secretary to return the cipher.

Mr Shah, however, said the court had ample reason to believe that the ex-PM received and perused the cipher on the basis of which he made public speeches and even sent a demarche to the US.

“But how do we know it was not returned?” the chief justice questioned.

Mr Shah replied that witnesses in the case had stated on oath that Mr Khan never returned the confidential document. He said that during a public speech and an interview with a private television channel, Mr Khan admitted that the cipher was in his possession.

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that politicians make such statement to pander to the crowd.

He asked the state’s counsel to apprise the court what happened with the First Information Report (FIR) registered over Azam Khan’s alleged abduction.

Justice Farooq directed the cou­nsel to submit a challan or disch­arge report in the FIR by May 2.

Iddat case

Meanwhile, Khawar Farid Man­eka, the former spouse of Bushra Bibi, sought the transfer of the ap­­p­eal against conviction of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi in Iddat case.

Mr Maneka requested sessions judge Shahrukh Arjumand to rec­use himself from hearing the ap­­p­eal for being biased. He also ac­­cu­sed the judge of being sympathetic to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2024

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