Legal Matter: Islamabad High Court Schedules Hearing for Imran Khan’s Bail Request Following Arrest

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The Islamabad High Court has scheduled a hearing for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s post-arrest bail petition in the cipher case for Saturday. According to the cause list released by the IHC registrar for the upcoming week, PTI Chief Imran Khan’s bail application will be heard by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday, September 25. Earlier this week, the court issued a notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for their arguments in the case.

In this case, both Imran Khan and his party’s Vice Chairman, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, had their post-arrest bail pleas rejected by a special court established under the Official Secrets Act. They have been in judicial remand in the cipher case until September 26.

The controversy, known as “ciphergate,” began on March 27, 2022, when Imran Khan, shortly before his removal from office in April 2022, presented a letter, claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation suggesting his government’s removal. The letter did not disclose its contents or the nation that had sent it. Later, Imran Khan mentioned the United States and accused Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu of seeking his removal.

The cipher was related to a meeting between former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed and Donald Lu. Imran Khan implied that “all would be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power.”

On March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) addressed the matter and decided to issue a strong protest to the foreign country for its interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. After Imran Khan’s removal, his successor Shehbaz Sharif convened another NSC meeting, which concluded that there was no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher.

The cipher case took a more serious turn when Imran Khan’s principal secretary, Azam Khan, stated before a magistrate and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that the former PM had used the US cipher for political gains and to avoid a vote of no-confidence. Azam revealed that when he provided the cipher to the ex-PM, he was “euphoric” and considered it a “US blunder.” Imran Khan allegedly said the cable could be used to “create a narrative against the establishment and opposition.”

Azam mentioned that the US cipher was used at political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to refrain from such actions. He also stated that Imran Khan suggested using the cipher to divert public attention towards “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.

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