Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Deputy Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday approached the Supreme Court seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case and sought quashing of the Islamabad High Court’s decision from November 8th.
The former federal minister’s plea is against the IHC’s decision to reject his release after his arrest on the above date.
The petition, filed today on behalf of the senior politician, said that the IHC had not properly assessed the facts of the matter.
“An unfounded and political charge has been made against the petitioner,” the complaint states.
The petition also pointed out that the courts had not given due consideration to the basic principles of bail advocated by the superior courts.
It was also pointed out that the court decision did not take due account of the fact that the role of the plaintiff was different from that of the main defendant and that the only allegations against the plaintiff mentioned in the March 3 notice related to one Speech given referred to a Jalsa.
It is to be noted that PTI leader Imran Khan had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court on November 3 seeking bail after his arrest in the cipher case.
In his 18-page bail plea, the PTI chief, through his lawyer Salman Safdar, submitted 15 legal questions related to the encryption case to the SC.
Among other things, Khan wanted the Supreme Court to examine whether the courts that rejected his bail application took into account that the cipher case was “politically motivated.” He also questioned the role of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) jurisdiction in the case and its “malicious intentions and ulterior motives.”
“Whether the Ministry of Interior correctly assumed the role of the complainant, with the exception of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which actually handles ‘Cypher Telegram’, and whether the Minister of Interior, under whose direct supervision the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) works, was not a political opponent of the complainant? Khan asked.
What is Ciphergate?
The controversy first arose on March 27, 2022, when Khan – less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 – waved a letter in front of the crowd at a public rally claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation , with whom he conspired and his political rivals called for the overthrow of the PTI government.
He did not reveal the contents of the letter, nor did he mention the name of the nation from which it came. But a few days later, he accused the United States of conspiring against him and claimed that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu had requested his removal.
The cipher was about former Pakistani ambassador to the US Majeed’s meeting with Lu.
The former prime minister claimed he was reading content from the cipher and said that “Pakistan will be forgiven if Imran Khan is removed from power.”
Then, on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the US for its “flagrant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.”
Later, after his ouster, then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called a meeting of the NSC, which concluded that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cable.
In the two audio leaks that took the internet by storm following these events and shocked the public, former Prime Minister, then Federal Minister Asad Umar and then Secretary General Azam were allegedly heard discussing US encryption and its use to your advantage.
On September 30, the federal cabinet took note of the matter and set up a committee to investigate the content of the audio leaks.
In October, the cabinet gave the green signal to take action against the former prime minister and handed over the case to the FIA.
After getting the order to investigate the matter, the FIA summoned Khan, Umar and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and got a stay order from the court.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) in July this year withdrew the stay order against the FIA’s summons notice to Khan.