Postponement of Imran Khan and Qureshi's Trial in the Cipher Case Until Next Week

The special court has delayed the formal charges against Imran Khan, Chairman of PTI, and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman, in the cipher case until October 23. The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s possession. The PTI claims this document contained a U.S. threat to remove Imran from his office.

On August 5, 2023, Imran Khan was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana graft case. Although the IHC (Islamabad High Court) later suspended his sentence, he remained incarcerated due to his judicial remand in the cipher case.

On September 25, the IHC approved Imran’s request to be moved from Attock District Jail to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. On September 30, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted a charge sheet in the Special Court under the Official Secrets Act, naming Imran and Shah Mahmood Qureshi as the primary suspects in the cipher case.

Imran has filed multiple petitions in the IHC, including ones to halt his jail trial and obtain bail in the cipher case, to suspend the Toshakhana verdict, and to contest his indictment in the cipher case.

Today, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain conducted an in-camera hearing of the cipher case at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail. The state prosecutor and FIA’s team, along with the investigation officer, were present, as well as Imran’s legal representatives.

Qureshi’s wife and daughter also arrived at the court, though it’s unclear whether they were allowed to attend the hearing.

Although the court had initially scheduled both PTI leaders for indictment today, it couldn’t take place as the court only provided copies of the charge sheet to the suspects. Imran and Qureshi accepted the copies and signed them, leading to the postponement of the hearing and indictment to October 23.

After the hearing, lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat confirmed that Imran and Qureshi would be indicted during the next hearing. He also mentioned that both leaders were presented before the court “in a cage” and that the next hearing would occur “in a larger room.”

Marwat expressed concerns that Imran might face a military court based on “164 statements recorded from 22 individuals who held a press conference regarding the May 9 incidents,” referring to those who left the party while condemning the May 9 violence. He added that Imran’s message to party workers was to “remain patient.”

Before the hearing began, lawyer Shah Khawar acknowledged that the court had initially set today for the indictment but highlighted that Imran had refused to accept the indictment challans during the previous hearing, leading to the postponement. He mentioned that they would need to see the current situation.