PTI demands judicial probe as FIA nominates Imran, Qureshi accused in cypher case

  • Challan submitted to court includes 28 witnesses, identifies chain of officials from foreign ministry to PMO
  • Ex-FSs – Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood, Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Timrizi among witnesses

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday submitted challan to the Special Official Secrets Act court in cypher case, nominating Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi as accused while the PTI termed the challan ‘meaningless and bogus as cypher case.’

The FIA, through the challan, pleaded to the court for trial and conviction of the former prime minister Imran and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The sources said that former minister and PTI leader Asad Umar has not been named in the list of the accused.

Former principal secretary to the PM Azam Khan has become a strong witness in the FIA’s case as his statement under 161 and 164, under Sections 161 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, has also been annexed with the challan, according to sources.

The challan highlights that the former prime minister had the cypher in his possession and allegedly misused classified state information. He has been accused of not returning the copy of the cypher. Furthermore, the challan maintains that Qureshi delivered a speech on March 27 and assisted the PTI chairman.

The transcript of the speeches given by Imran and Qureshi on March 27 have also been attached to the challan submitted to the court along with a list of 28 witnesses, with statements of 27 of them.

Among the witnesses listed in the special court’s challan are former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed and Sohail Mehmood. Moreover, Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Timrizi has also been listed as another key witness by the FIA.

Outlining the process of a diplomatic cypher reaching the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and landing into the hands of a prime minister, the FIA has included as witnesses the entire chain of officials in the foreign ministry as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to sources, copies of the challan in the cypher case are likely to be provided to the PTI chairman and Qureshi during the next court hearing.

Subsequently, a date for indictment will be determined.

A copy of Azam Khan’s statement under Section 164 has already been submitted to the court. Whether the court permits access to this statement to the defence or merely allows their legal representatives to read it remains at the court’s discretion.

 

PTI demands judicial probe into cypher case

Rejecting the challan submitted by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the cypher case.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the PTI spokesperson said that the challan submitted against party chairman Imran Khan and vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi was ‘meaningless and bogus as cypher case”.

Moreover, the spokesperson maintained, the cipher was still present in its original state in the Foreign Office. “Cypher’s presence proves the allegations levelled against the former prime minister [Imran Khan] as baseless,” he added.

“The then federal cabinet declassified the cipher under its powers”, the spokesman noted, claiming that Official Secrets Act cannot be applied in this case.

The spokesperson further said that PTI chief had repeatedly demanded an independent and impartial investigation into cipher case. “He also penned down letters to chief justice and President of Pakistan, but to no avail.”

The spokesperson concluded by saying that a judicial commission should be formed to investigate the cipher to meet the demands of justice.

Cypher saga

The FIA initiated its probe into the so-called “cypher-gate” on July 19 after the PML-N-led coalition government announced an official inquiry against the former PM and his close associates for violating the Official Secrets Act, 1923 for illegal possession of a classified document.

The FIA registered cypher case on August 15 under the Official Secrets Act on the complaint of the Home Secretary.

Former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were nominated in the FIR, while names of former principal secretary Azam Khan and former planning minister Asad Umar were also mentioned.

The agency arrested Qureshi, who had served as the country’s foreign minister during the PTI’s rule, on August 19. An FIA Counter Terrorism Wing team interrogated Imran on August 26 inside Attock Jail in connection with the case. The agency announced Imran’s arrest on August 29 – right after his three-year jail sentence was suspended in the Toshakhana case.

The FIR stated that the former prime minister and foreign minister distorted the facts of the diplomatic cypher. “A conspiracy was launched to misuse the contents of the cipher to fulfill nefarious purposes”, it added. It further stated that former premier and top diplomat endangered the state interests.

The report claimed that former prime minister asked Azam Khan – the then principal secretary – to “manipulate the contents of cipher”. “The former premier deliberately kept the copy of diplomatic cipher, which was sent to the PM office”, it added.

 

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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