Home Featured Qureshi paying the price for siding with Imran: lawyer Salman Safdar

Qureshi paying the price for siding with Imran: lawyer Salman Safdar

7 min read

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: The defence counsel in the cipher case informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday that ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was facing legal proceedings for not testifying against former prime minister Imran Khan.

Barrister Salman Safdar, counsel for the two PTI leaders, told the division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb that Mr Qureshi was under tremendous pressure to testify against Mr Khan.

He contended that Mr Qureshi was implicated in the case as a consequence of his refusal to speak against the former PM. The counsel maintained that former principal secretary to PM Azam Khan had availed ‘the offer’ and got off scot-free.

He pointed out that complainant Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, who was interior secretary at the time, had not nominated Mr Khan and Mr Qureshi in his complaint. He said the case was registered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), which was promulgated by the British government over a century ago.

Chief Justice Farooq reminded him that successive governments, including the PTI’s, had never tried to repeal the law, therefore, this argument did not carry weight.

Barrister Safdar went on to state that the OSA could only be used for sharing information with the enemy of the state, adding that a traitor, not a patriotic citizen, could be prosecuted under this law.

He argued that the former premier had informed the people of Pakistan about foreign interference, since the cipher carried “threatening tone of a US diplomat”, adding that it was because of this that the National Security Committee had decided to issue a demarche to the US.

The counsel informed the court that neither the cipher nor the demarche had been made part of the judicial record during proceedings.

“These documents were deliberately not brought to the court record since it would have revealed the facts,” he added.

Even the complainant was not aware of the contents of cipher, he stated.

The lawyer argued that Mr Khan has been accused of negligence in the cipher case for not keeping the confidential document in safe custody.

He said then-principal secretary Azam Khan was responsible for the safe custody of cipher. However, he has been pardoned for testifying against Imran Khan.

The bench inquired if there was any record of cipher’s movement from the principal secretary to the prime minister, and so on.

The counsel expressed his ignorance. The court then asked the prosecution for response at their turn.

Further hearing on the appeals of Mr Khan and Mr Qureshi was adjourned to Thursday (today).

Prison facilities

Separately, the Punjab government informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that seven cells had been allocated for Imran Khan at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail.

Advocate General of Punjab (AGP) Khalid Ishaq stated this during the hearing of a petition filed by the president of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Lawyers Forum, Azeem Pahat, about security of Mr Khan in the jail.

The chief law officer said an accommodation of six cells had been made for the PTI’s founding chairman in addition to the cell already allotted to him. He said one guard is deputed for security of every ten inmates in Adiala jail. However, security of the former premier has been assigned to 14 personnel.

The AGP said the monthly expense for Mr Khan’s security is Rs1.2 million. He said extra CCTV cameras had also been installed for his security.

He pointed out that food for the PTI’s founder is cooked in a kitchen exclusively dedicated for him.

Lahore High Court Bar Association President Asad Manzoor Butt, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, thanked the AGP for providing these details.

He said the petitioner was satisfied with the government’s report and wanted to withdraw the petition.

LHC Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan adjourned the matter till April 16 so that some relevant petitions could also be disposed of.

The petitioner said due to security threats, jail authorities had imposed restrictions on meetings with the PTI founder.

He said the life of the former prime minister was at risk.

Therefore, he added, an order should be issued to provide complete protection to the life of Imran Khan.