A significant development has unfolded in Pakistan as former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been indicted in what is known as the “cipher case” under Pakistan’s Official Secrets Act (OSA). The case revolves around a classified 2022 diplomatic document that went missing from Khan’s possession and the alleged act of making its contents public.
The indictment marks a substantial legal setback for Khan, who has faced a series of challenges since being ousted from the Prime Minister’s post in April of the previous year. He has been embroiled in over 150 legal cases, which he has repeatedly characterized as “politically motivated.”
Furthermore, Khan’s situation garnered international attention when a purported copy of the secret cable in question was published by U.S. media. The previous government, led by Shehbaz Sharif, accused Khan of being the source of the leak.
Khan, however, staunchly denies all charges related to the cipher case, as stated by his lawyer, Advocate Umair Niazi. The case proceedings took place in the Special OSA court, where Khan is currently detained in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail. The court has summoned witnesses for the upcoming hearing on Friday.
The cipher case was filed under Sections 5 and 9 of Pakistan’s OSA, in conjunction with Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) Section 34. Khan and Qureshi face allegations of “wrongful communication,” misuse of classified information, and the unauthorized retention of a “cipher telegram” from Pakistan’s Washington embassy to the Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 7, 2022, with mala fide intentions.
An FIR (First Information Report) accuses Khan, Qureshi, and their associates of sharing these classified documents with unauthorized individuals, including the public and media.
Separately, Khan has been grappling with legal issues related to the Toshakhana corruption case. In this case, he was charged with concealing his income from the sale of state gifts acquired from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as Prime Minister and making false statements. This case resulted in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) barring Khan from holding public office for five years, months after his removal through a no-confidence vote.
These legal entanglements have kept Imran Khan in the spotlight, and the indictment in the cipher case adds another layer of complexity to his legal challenges. The coming legal proceedings will shed further light on the details and implications of this case.