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Cipher case: Qureshi requests special court to summon President Alvi

Cipher case: Qureshi requests special court to summon President Alvi


Cipher case: Qureshi requests special court to summon President Alvi

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(Web Desk) – As the cipher trial proceedings resumed at Adiala Jail on Saturday, former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi requested the special court to summon President Dr Arif Alvi to determine whether or not he had assented to the changes in the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

Back in August, while President Alvi maintained he had not approved any changes to the Secrets Act and Pakistan Army Act, the Law Ministry censured his statement, asking him to take responsibility for his actions.

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic cable which according to the charge-sheet of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was never returned by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, who had alleges it contained a threat from the United States to oust him as the prime minister of Pakistan.

Both the former premier and former foreign minister were indicted in the case on Oct 23.

While their trial was ongoing at Adiala Jail in which they pleaded not guilty, the Islamabad High Court scrapped the entire proceedings, ruling that the very notification for the “jail trial” released by the government was “erroneous”.

At the time, four witnesses had already testified, while the fifth witness was being cross-examined.

Following the high court’s decision, the special court has to begin a fresh trial now.

In this respect, Special Court judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain earlier this week ruled that the trial would continue at Adiala Jail, but in an open court.

Nevertheless, even today (Saturday) media professionals were barred from entering the jail, when the hearing got underway. Only three reporters from news televisions were allowed inside the jail.

During the hearing, the counsels for both the PTI leaders, as well as their family members, appeared before the court.

Later, the attendance of the two PTI chief whips was marked, after which the judge adjourned the hearing till Dec 4 (Monday).

At the commencement of the proceedings, former foreign minister Qureshi inquired whether their trial was being conducted under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 or its amended version.

Stating that the jail administration had violated court orders, he emphasised, "We never had security risks. I used to travel alone in my car."

Describing the case as unfounded, the PTI leader reminded that President Arif Alvi had expressed his non-assent to the bills amending the Secrets Act. Qureshi urged the court to summon the president, stating, "He should testify in court whether he has assented to these amendments or not."

Qureshi mentioned that well-known lawyers were prepared to advocate for the PTI chief. Responding to Qureshi, Judge Zulqarnain indicated that his objection had been addressed as "media and the public are present".

Highlighting that the trials of both PTI leaders couldn't be conducted separately due to the interconnected nature of the case, the judge recalled that Qureshi had not been presented due to security concerns.

Addressing Qureshi, the judge assured, "No section of the law amended by Arif Alvi will apply to you. Your trial will be conducted according to sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act. We will proceed with the proceedings based on merit."