A special court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan in the cipher case for allegedly violating the secret laws of the country. Khan, 71, was arrested in August after a case was filed against him for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by disclosing a secret diplomatic cable (cipher) sent by the country’s embassy in Washington in March last year.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also indicted along with Khan. Khan had used that document to build a narrative that his government was ousted as a result of a foreign conspiracy. The hearing of the case was held at the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi by special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain. According to Geo News, Khan and Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
What is the cipher case?
Last year, Khan alleged that the US orchestrated a plan to remove him from office and brandished a cipher at a public rally to back his claims. The US has time and again denied such allegations, terming them “categorically false”.
According to Khan’s then-principal secretary Azam Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief was allegedly “euphoric” after seeing the cipher and decided to use it to build an “anti-establishment narrative” on the back of a “blunder” committed by the US.
“The cipher copy was retained by Imran Khan and the next day (March 10) when he asked for it, Imran Khan replied that he had misplaced it,” the confession statement said, adding that the PTI chief did not return the original cipher despite repeated requests.
On September 30, 2022, the federal cabinet of Pakistan under Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leaks. The FIA summoned Khan, Umar and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief secured a stay order against such summons.
(With inputs from agency)