Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s judicial remand has been extended until September 13 due to a special court’s decision under the Official Secrets Act.
The decision revolves around the cipher case hearing at Attock District Jail. The missing cipher, a confidential state document, became a public concern when Khan publicly displayed it during a political rally just before his removal from office.
Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, conducting the jail hearing after the Law Ministry’s approval, mandated this extension. This decision was influenced by safety concerns raised by the Interior Ministry.
The Tangle of Cases Holding Khan
Imprisoned since his conviction in the Toshakhana case on August 5, Khan has been accused of neglecting to announce gifts he received during his tenure. While a more recent ruling by the Islamabad High Court overturned a previous three-year incarceration sentence and a Rs100,000 fine, Khan remains in custody. This continued detention stems from his ongoing judicial remand in the cipher case.
Furthermore, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) apprehended the former Prime Minister under the Official Secrets Act earlier this month. Following this arrest, the PTI Chairman’s judicial remand was extended, and he simultaneously served his Toshakhana case sentence at Attock jail.
Legal Teams Clash Over Proceedings
At the hearing, the prosecution and defence were represented by Prosecutor Zulfiqar Naqvi for the FIA and PTI lawyer Salman Safdar for Khan, respectively. After the hearing, the PTI chief’s legal team initiated a post-arrest bail application, seeking a public court hearing.
The PTI lawyers made subsequent moves, including filing petitions to label the jail trial notification as “illegal” and requesting Khan’s post-arrest bail. Both petitions now await responses from relevant parties by September 2.
Khan’s Position on Cipher Allegations
In a post-hearing media interaction, Salman Safdar, representing Khan, provided insight into Khan’s perspective. Khan allegedly stated that the diplomatic document resides with the Foreign Office, negating claims of its loss. Furthermore, Safdar contested the application of the Official Secrets Act in this case, emphasizing its irrelevance after the cipher’s declassification in 2022. He argued that this act usually applies to more sensitive issues related to espionage.
Highlighting the gravity of prosecuting an ex-prime minister under the Official Secrets Act, Safdar labelled it as “highly condemnable and concerning.”
With Khan’s legal team sensing foul play, the PTI chairman’s detainment has been labelled a “manipulation of justice.” Since his removal from office, Khan has faced over 200 legal cases and has been denied bail multiple times, resulting in heightened tensions and a cloud of uncertainties surrounding his political future.