Gulf Today

Imran’s lawyer concerned over handling of cipher case

- Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: A lawyer representi­ng former prime minister Imran Khan has raised concerns over the handling of the cipher case, alleging that the foreign ministry was seemingly unbothered by the document’s disappeara­nce, despite being its custodian, and that the interior ministry had “hijacked the case for no reason.”

Presenting arguments before a division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Barrister Salman Safdar sought the suspension of Imran and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s sentences in the cipher case.

However, the bench declined the request, opting instead for a swit decision on their appeals.

Imran is accused of misusing the cipher — a confidenti­al diplomatic communicat­ion — for political gain and endangerin­g national security by disclosing and misplacing it.

Safdar contended that the cipher still exists in Foreign Office records, and its transcribe­d version has been shared with eight individual­s.

Safdar said the Foreign Office sent a copy of the cipher to Azam Khan, the principal secretary to the then-prime minister, Imran Khan. Azam Khan alleged he handed over a copy to Imran, who failed to return it. The counsel said this might be negligence, not a crime, adding that Imran could not be convicted for mere negligence.

He said that when the cipher went missing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not show any concern, nor did it issue any leter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

He said that when the PMO informed the foreign ministry that their copy of the cipher was missing, the foreign secretary replied that a copy of this confidenti­al document could not be issued and advised the PMO staff to try to find the cipher.

Safdar also pointed out that the Federal Investigat­ion Agency (FIA) issued a notice to Imran seven months ater the receipt of the cipher, whereas the former premier could have retained it for a year.

Justice Aurangzeb noted that if Azam Khan was the only witness of handing over the cipher’s copy to Imran, in case his testimony is excluded, there would be no evidence that the cipher was misplaced from the former premier’s custody.

The judge also inquired under what law the copy of the cipher could be retained for a year. Safdar replied that the prosecutio­n had taken this stance during the initial hearings.

When the court inquired how long the counsel would take to conclude the arguments, the former prime minister’s counsel replied that he would conclude it by the next session. The court set the next hearing for April 16.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bahrain