A Pakistan high court on Thursday has extended the stay against the jail trial of former prime minister Imran Khan in the cipher case until November 20.
The Islamabad High Court bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz extended the stay during the hearing of 71-year-old Khan’s intra-court appeal against the jail trial.
The appeal was filed against a single-member bench of the same court which last month upheld the trial of Khan in the Adiala Jail Rawalpindi where he has been incarcerated.
According to Khan’s PTI party, the IHC “extended the stay of the cipher case trial under official secret act till Monday, November 20”.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman is currently detained in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on judicial remand. Khan’s close aide and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (67) who was also arrested in the cipher case is imprisoned in the same jail. Khan and Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The caretaker government has approved the jail trial of Khan and Qureshi in the case based on an alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act while dealing with a secret diplomatic cable by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022. The duo were booked by the Federal Investigation Agency in August in connection with the case.
The single bench, led by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, on October 16 observed no apparent malice behind conducting Khan’s jail trial in the cipher case and directed him to approach the trial court if his reservations persist. Subsequently, Khan filed an intra-court appeal against the single bench’s decision.
The purported cipher (secret diplomatic cable) contained an account of a meeting between US State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South & Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan last year.
Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from August 2018 to April 2022, is accused of misusing the contents of the cipher to build a narrative that his government was ousted due to a conspiracy hatched by the US, a charge denied by Washington.
Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. More than 150 cases have been registered against Khan since his ouster from power.