IHC dismisses petition
seeking treason proceedings
against Imran Khan,
other PTI leaders

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a petition seeking “high treason proceedings” against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the placement of his name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The petition filed by Advocate Molvi Iqbal Haider under Article 199 of the Constitution had called for initiating proceedings under the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 against Khan, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, PTI leader Qasim Khan Suri as well as Pakistan’s ambassador the United States. It had also requested that their names be placed in the ECL.

Islamabad High Court

According a Dawn report, additionally, the petition had sought an investigation into the contents of a cable sent from the then US ambassador Asad Majeed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to recently ousted prime minister Khan, the cable, which he first spoke of and brandished at a public rally on March 27, carried details of the ambassador’s meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu in which the latter allegedly threatened Pakistan. Khan and his party linked the purported threat with the no-trust move against him in the National Assembly that led to his ouster from the top office.

Majeed, in the cable, reportedly said that Lu warned that Khan’s continuation as the prime minister would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The US, Khan claims, was annoyed with his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow.

The IHC dismissed the petition as “frivolous”, adding that the petitioner had attempted to make the cable “controversial”. A fine of Rs100,000 was also imposed on the petitioner.

The court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said: “The rhetoric of treason is deprecated. No citizen can claim to be more patriotic than the other. Likewise no citizen has the right to declare others as having committed treason.”

It said the allegations made against Khan in the petition were “deprecated” and making a cable that had been sent by a Pakistani diplomat “controversial and the subject of litigation” was against the public and state’s interests.

“It is an onerous duty of every citizen to ensure that sensitive national security issues are not sensationalised nor politicised.

“Dragging the diplomats and their classified reporting and assessments into political controversies could undermine Pakistan’s national interests, its diplomacy and external relations,” the court order said.

The order stated that it was “settled law” that matters relating to the country’s foreign affairs were “extremely sensitive and therefore not justiciable”. It said the assertions were “vague” and not supported by any credible material that merited making the diplomatic cable a subject of litigation.

“It (the cable) was placed before the National Security Committee. It appears that the latter was satisfied that no probe was required. Such sensitive and complex matters ought to be dealt with by the foreign office of Pakistan, rather [than] making them controversial through litigation,” the court order said.

It admonished the petitioner, saying that he did not appreciate the importance of a sensitive nature of a diplomatic cable sent by Pakistani diplomats.

“The diplomatic cables are of immense importance and have a limited access. They are classified because they enable the Pakistani diplomats to write assessments and analysis uninhabited including disclosing rare things. The diplomats have the assurance that their reporting and assessments would be fully protected and shall not be sensationalised nor politicised.”