Imran Khan, the former chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), announced on Monday his intention to include ex-army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and US embassy officials as witnesses in his defence for the cipher case.
During an informal chat with journalists at Adiala jail, Khan asserted that General Bajwa acted on directives from US diplomat Donald Lu. The case, being heard in a special court under the Official Secrets Act 2023, has recently resumed after the Islamabad High Court nullified a previous jail trial.
Confident of PTI’s victory in the upcoming February 8 polls, Khan mentioned his arrest as part of a plan. He also referred to allegations by Khawar Maneka, former husband of his wife Bushra Bibi, clarifying he saw his wife’s face only after their marriage. He claimed pressure was exerted on Bushra’s sons to testify against their mother.
Co-accused Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed his steadfast loyalty to PTI, stating that he no longer desires any post within the party.
Court Proceedings and Ciphergate Background
The special court set December 12 as the indictment date for Khan and Qureshi. This comes after the controversy in March 2022, when Khan publicly claimed a foreign conspiracy against his government based on a cipher.
The National Security Committee initially issued a demarche to the US, but later investigations found no evidence of foreign conspiracy. Audio leaks and subsequent cabinet decisions led to the case being handed over to the FIA, resulting in the booking of Khan and Qureshi in August 2022.
Despite the court’s orders allowing open access to the proceedings, only a limited number of journalists were permitted at the hearing. The cipher case continues to be a point of contention in Pakistani politics, with ongoing investigations and high-profile names involved.