77-page judgment
against Imran Khan
and Shah Mehmood
in Cipher case issued

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad based special court has issued the detailed written judgment regarding the 10-year imprisonment sentence to former PTI chairman and Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case. The judgment containing 77 pages was authored and announced by Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain.

The written verdict said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi requested for a fair trial through improper procedure. “The behavior of both the accused was taken into consideration during the trial both,” he said adding that the accused created self-inflicted miseries and tried to pretend as helpless to sympathy.

Picture released on June 7, 2023, shows former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaking with former premier Imran Khan.
Picture released on June 7, 2023, shows former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaking with former premier Imran Khan.

The decision said that as per the findings, “the acts of omission and commission of the accused persons has had serious adverse affect on Pakistan’s diplomatic and political standing among comity of nations. This, in turn, has benefited foreign powers hostile to Pakistan”.

It said that, “Statement of Azam Khan is very much pivotal with regard to the charge showing that cypher telegram which was accountable document was retained by accused Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi and same was not returned to MOFA and- no rebuttal came from defence side in this regard. Thus, charge stands proved.

“The cypher being an official secret document and classified as such was still in the possession of accused Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi and that the unauthorized retention and misuse of the cypher had compromised the entire cypher security system of the state and secret communication methods used by Pakistan’s missions abroad.”

Imran Khan waving a paper attributed as ‘Cipher’ in a public meeting in March 2022.
Imran Khan waving a paper attributed as ‘Cipher’ in a public meeting in March 2022.

The said an FIR was registered after an inquiry in the matter was concluded on 05.10.2022, later on both the accused were formally arrested and sent to judicial lock up in instant case.

It said that being the prime minister it was the responsibility of former PTI chairman to return the secret document as the Foreign Office could not demand it from the prime minister. The cypher was yet to be returned by the founder PTI chairman. The case was related to cipher which was received from Washington, it added.

The order further said that the court had testified 25 witnesses during the trial. “It is observed with pain that attitudes of defence lawyers were not serious throughout the proceedings. On 27.01.2024 defence counsel were not available but defense counsel at state expense were present.

“Both the accused misbehaved with state defence counsel and files were thrown, time was granted to the accused and meanwhile their defence counsel Muhammad Usman Riaz Gill Advocate and Syeyd Mohammad Ali Bokhari Advocate reached and requested for an hour time to prepare cross-examination. Request was allowed and when court resumed both of them were multiple times asked to cross-examine the witness and after their denial state defence counsels were asked to cross-examine.”

The court said that the PTI founder showed and waved the cipher copy in front of irrelevant people, which caused damages to the country. It was an illegal act.

“The founder PTI has admitted to receiving, possessing, waving and disappearing of the cipher document.”

It said that the charges under Section 5 3A of the Official Secrets Act 1923 were proved against the PTI founder. Shah Mehmood Qureshi was well aware of the sensitivity of the document, and he also addressed the public gathering before the PTI founder on March 27, 2022, the court added.

The former minister, the court observed, “is also guilty under Official Secrets Act 1923 Section 5 3A and PPC 34. The accused deserves neither sympathy nor leniency as their actions have affected Pakistan’s political, social, economic and foreign relations.”

The judgment said that the PTI founder deliberately lied in the rally and did not think of the country. On March 31, it added, the US had threatened, and this statement damaged the relations between Pakistan and the US. In response, the US said three times that the PTI founder’s statement was not based on reality. After it, the PTI founder lied his government was overthrown as part of a conspiracy and he targeted the state institution.

The court observed that the cipher case against the PTI founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi was an open and shut case. “According to the witnesses, Shah Mahmood Qureshi incited people on the issue of cipher in the public gatherings. The two accused has failed to prove themselves innocent while the prosecution has proved the charges against both.

“In view of the above, the court announced ten-year rigorous imprisonment sentence to each in the said case.”