Sentences in cypher case will be ‘put off’, FIA warned

IHC turns down request of agency’s prosecutor for more time to prepare arguments

Fiaz Mahmood April 16, 2024
Former prime minister Imran Khan (L) and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R). PHOTO: FILE


The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday told the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor to start presenting his arguments in the cypher case from Wednesday and if he required more time, the court would suspend the sentences of the convicts.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb were hearing PTI founding chairman Imran Khan and party vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s appeal against their conviction in the cypher case.

Barrister Salman Safdar representing Imran and FIA Special Prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah appeared before the court.

Safdar argued that the diplomatic cable was received by then principal secretary to PM Azam Khan and prosecution had been unable to establish that if he had handed it over to then-premier Imran or not.

He added that his stance was that the copy of the document was lost from the PM’s Office and that is what Azam had corroborated as well.

Safdar further told the court that according to the mechanism, if the cypher was lost, it was necessary to report it to the foreign affairs ministry.

This is followed by a departmental inquiry conducted by senior officers of the foreign affairs ministry but that did not happen.

Read more: Imran, Qureshi’s judicial remanded extended

Besides, he said the foreign affairs ministry should have sent a reminder but it never came.

The lawyer continued that the PM Office informed the foreign affairs ministry about the document being lost on March 28, 2022.

He added that the foreign affairs ministry should have informed the Intelligence Bureau immediately about the development but it did not.

Safdar said if the main allegation had not been proven, then the charge of negligence could not be sustained.

“The point I am making is that there is nothing on record that the copy of the cipher was handed over to us.”

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb inquired why this charge of negligence or “deliberately” losing the copy of the document was not brought against Azam.

Safdar replied that the charge was framed against the suspect. However, he added the case was spoiled when the suspect was turned into a witness.

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb pointed out that the security of the cipher was so that nobody could see it, and asked had anyone seen document or not.

The lawyer replied in the negative, saying that even he had not seen it yet. He added even no witness had said anything related to its text.

Safdar argued that the procedure was not followed before Azam was turned into a witness. He noted that Azam was one of the people named in the FIR of the case and that was why his statement was not valid.

He continued that when Azam’s statement was recorded under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure, there was no right of cross-examination.

The lawyer contended that Azam was turned into a witness after being pardoned without following the proper procedure.

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb remarked that court was taking Safdar’s argument very seriously.

Addressing Safdar, IHC CJ Farooq asked him to inform the court about something on the basis of which it should accept his arguments.

“Will there be any effect of Azam Khan returning after his disappearance and giving a statement?” he inquired.

Safdar concluded his arguments by saying that Azam’s statement was unreliable.

The FIA prosecutor requested the court to give him three to four days to prepare his arguments.

However, the court rejected the request and directed the prosecutor to present the arguments from Wednesday.

The bench told the prosecutor if you wanted more time, the court would suspend the sentences on Wednesday. It added that then the prosecutor could take as much time as he desired.

Later, the IHC adjourned the hearing of the pleas till Wednesday.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ