The interim federal cabinet on Monday approved the jail trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case in light of the former prime minister’s “security concerns.”
The decision was taken on a summary moved by the Law Ministry in which it had noted that a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the trial of Khan and Qureshi at Adiala Jail was issued on Aug. 29 on the request of the Interior Ministry and Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain. “The jail trial was requested for the PTI chairman keeping in view security concerns,” it added.
Both Khan and Qureshi are currently under-trial prisoners at the Adiala Jail. The cipher case pertains to a coded diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) alleges was retained by Khan during his tenure as prime minister and never returned to the Foreign Ministry. The PTI chief is also accused of “misusing” the document for political gains against the national interest.
Last month, a special court formed under the Official Secrets Act indicted Khan and Qureshi and proceeded with witness testimonies. Both men have pled “not guilty,” while Khan has also filed an intra-court appeal against the jail trial before the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The appeal is set to be heard by the IHC on Nov. 14 (Tuesday).
Earlier, an IHC single bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had rejected Khan’s plea against the jail trial, noting there was no “apparent malice” behind conducting the trial at Adiala Jail. It also noted the jail trial was to the benefit of Khan, as he faced several security concerns, per his own counsels. The PTI chief subsequently filed an intra-court appeal against the single bench’s decision.