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Pakistan: Imran Khan files petition in Islamabad court, seeks post-arrest bail in cipher case
Islamabad: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. Khan's decision comes days after the special court formed to hear cases filed under the Official Secrets Act, rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman's plea seeking the same.
Imran Khan filed the petition through his lawyer Salman Safdar. The State and Interior Ministry Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokar have been made respondents in the case. The petitioner has requested the court to grant post-arrest bail to Imran Khan till the final disposal of the cipher case “to meet the ends of justice”.
According to the plea, nearly 200 criminal cases have been registered against Imran Khan, out of which “almost 40 cases are [on] charges of corruption, murder, sedition, mutiny, foreign funding, NAB (National Accountability Bureau) reference and Toshakhana reference”.
The petitioner through the plea said that Imran Khan could not avail remedy under section 498 (power to direct admission to bail or reduction of bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The petition alleged that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) operated at the behest of the then interior ministry, according to Dawn report.
It further said that the matter of the case not being registered by the foreign ministry had gone unnoticed by Special Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, Dawn reported. The plea has mentioned past verdicts to argue that “straightaway arrests have been condemned in landmark authoritative judgments”.
The petition said that the Secrets Act was “originally enacted to hold members of the armed forces (air, navy, army) accountable for violations and breaches of the law’. It stated that Pakistan's former Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have made “contradictory statements”, according to which, the “original cipher document is securely held in the custody of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
The plea alleged that this was another attempt made by the "state functionaries, to secure the straightway arrest of the petitioner after suspension of his sentence in Toshakhana reference.”. It said that the actions of respondents demonstrate "clear mala fide, hostility, and vindictive motives to harm the petitioner in his office, career, person, reputation, and dignity”.
The petition described Imran Khan as “one of the few honest and dignified statesmen of Pakistan" and recalled his cricket career and philanthropic contributions. The plea stated that the petitioner was ready to furnish reasonable surety to the entire satisfaction of the court and also undertook “not to abscond or tamper with the prosecution witnesses”.
The cipher case is related to a diplomatic document that reportedly went missing from Imran Khan's possession. The PTI claimed that the document included a threat from the US to remove Imran Khan from the post of Pakistan's PM, Dawn reported.
Imran Khan and Pakistan's former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been attending hearings in the case. Meanwhile, PTI leader Asad Umar’s and former principal secretary Azam Khan’s involvement was supposed to be determined during the probe.
On Thursday, the court granted post-arrest bail to Asad Umar while Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were denied bail. The judicial remand of Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been extended till September 26.
According to the FIR, a case has been registered against Imran Khan and Qureshi under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, read with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Dawn reported.
They have been accused of wrongful communication/use of official secret information and illegal retention of a cipher telegram with mala fide intention, according to Dawn report. Meanwhile, the role of Muhammad Azam Khan, Asad Umar, and other involved associates will be determined during the probe.
It said Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and their other associates were involved in communication of information included in secret classified document received from Parep Washington dated March 7, 2022 to the Secretary, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the unauthorised persons by twisting facts to achieve their ulterior motives and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security.