PTI chief’s immediate release unlikely despite suspension of Toshakhana sentence

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By Webdesk

Pakistans former Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) leaves after appearing in the Supreme Court in Islamabad on July 26, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) leaves after appearing in the Supreme Court in Islamabad on July 26, 2023. — AFP
  • Ex-PM in judicial remand in cipher case till August 30.
  • PTI chief due to be presented in special court in cipher case.
  • IHC orders Khan’s release from Attock jail on bail.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday secured a major legal victory as the sentence awarded to him in the Toshakhana case was suspended; however, the former premier is likely to remain incarcerated despite release orders.

Earlier today, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the three-year sentence awarded by a local court and ordered Khan’s release but he will remain imprisoned at Attock jail as he was arrested by authorities in the  cipher case, registered under Official Secrets Act, while he serving sentence in Toshakhana case.    

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officially arrested the former prime minister — who was ousted from office after a no-confidence motion in April last year — under the Official Secrets Act 1923 during his imprisonment in Attock jail in the Toshakhana case.

The counter-terrorism wing of the FIA had registered an FIR in the case against Khan after for misplacing and misusing the classified document for political purposes. 

During the trial of the case, the judge of a special court formed under the Official Secrets Act has remanded Khan into judicial custody in jail till August 30. 

The court has also directed the superintendent of Attock jail to keep the ex-PM in the judicial lockup and present him upon completion of the remand period.

Therefore he cannot be immediately released from jail.

The case

On March 27, 2022, ahead of the vote of no-confidence that resulted in his ouster, former premier Imran had pulled out a piece of paper – allegedly the cipher – from his pocket and waved it in a public gathering in Islamabad, claiming it was the evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government.

However, during the interrogation with the joint investigation team (JIT) in the jail on August 26, Khan denied that the paper he waved at a public gathering last year was the cipher.

He also admitted to losing the cipher, saying he couldn’t recall where he kept it.

The cipher case against the former premier became serious after his principal secretary Azam Khan stated before a magistrate as well as the FIA that the former PM had used the US cipher for his ‘political gains’ and to avert a vote of no-confidence against him.

The former bureaucrat, in his confession, said when he provided the ex-premier with the cipher, he was “euphoric” and termed the language a “US blunder”. The former prime minister, according to Azam, then said that the cable could be used for “creating a narrative against establishment and opposition”.

Azam said the US cipher was used in political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to avoid such acts. He mentioned that the former prime minister also told him that the cipher could be used to divert the public’s attention towards “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.

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