ISLAMABAD: A day after the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order, authorities on Tuesday shifted incarcerated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail from Attock prison following high drama.
A day earlier, IHC CJ Aamer Farooq expressed his annoyance over keeping an ‘under-trial prisoner’ in Attock jail instead of Adiala jail and directed the concerned authorities to move Khan — who is currently serving a three-year sentence in the Toshakhana corruption case. — to the Adiala jail.
Confusion arose as officials of Adiala jail denied reports of the former prime minister’s shifting to the prison after his lawyers made such claims.
Hours after the IHC directed the authorities concerned to move Khan to Adiala prison from the Attock jail, where he had been incarcerated for over a month, the members of his legal team said that the orders had been complied with.
Naeem Panjhota, who is the spokesperson of Khan on legal affairs, claimed that the ousted premier — who was removed from power via a parliamentary vote in April last year — had been shifted to the prison in Adiala.
However, the Adiala jail administration refuted the claim, saying that Khan had not yet been shifted there.
Later, taking to X — formerly known as Twitter — Panjhuta said that he had been informed that Imran Khan had been shifted to Adiala jail but “it is beyond understanding that Attock jail [authorities] are also saying that they have PTI chairman.”
Earlier today, heavy contingents of police reached the Attock jail to shift Khan to the Adiala prison. An 18-vehicle convoy — including 15 vehicles of Islamabad police, two armoured vehicles and an ambulance escorted Khan from Attock to Adiala jail via motorway.
Attock jail notification declared ‘null and void’
In a separate hearing today, the IHC declared null and void the authorities’ notification to keep the PTI chairman in Attock jail.
In a written order, IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq approved the request to transfer Khan to Adiala jail. The court stated that the PTI chief had been sentenced to three years in the Toshakhana case.
The trial court had directed keeping the PTI chief in Adiala Jail, but due to security concerns, he was transferred to the Attock jail to complete his sentence on the recommendation of the Inspector General of Prisons.
Despite the suspension of his sentence in the Toshakhana case by the IHC on August 28, the former prime minister remained incarcerated in the prison as he was also arrested in the cipher case.
The additional advocate general of Punjab stated that shifting Khan to Adiala jail poses a security risk. Under-trial prisoners of all cases registered in the federal capital are kept in the Adiala jail, while only convicted prisoners can be shifted to any jail in Punjab.
The court said that Khan, as a former prime minister, is entitled to better class facilities in jail.
In its written order, the court stated that the PTI chairman’s lawyer had requested the provision of gym equipment to his client in jail; however, the court said it cannot issue such instructions because it is not clear whether such facilities are allowed or not.
The superintendent jail, the court said, is the authorised authority in this regard, and appropriate requests should be filed with them.
Imran’s judicial remand extended till October 10
PTI chairman Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi will remain behind bars for the next 14 days as a special court — established under the Official Secrets Act — extended their judicial remand till October 10 in the cipher case on Tuesday.
Open court hearing
Earlier, the IHC ruled that the next hearing of the PTI chairman’s bail plea in the cipher case will take place in an open court.
IHC Chief Justice Farooq issued a two-page written order in response to the prosecution’s request for in-camera proceedings.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had initially sought closed-door hearings, citing the presence of “privileged” and “sensitive” documents and information.
The court has, consequently, instructed the FIA prosecutors to submit a separate petition for in-camera proceedings during the upcoming hearing.
The order further said that the special prosecutor for the agency had contended that when the bail application before the trial court was argued, the public was isolated, however, the official conceded that the petitioner argued its case in open court.
However, the order mentioned that the PTI counsel said he had no objection if unnecessary people were barred from the courtroom.
The FIA prosecutors, in their request, also mentioned that the hearing of the case in the special trial court was also held in-camera and unauthorised people were asked to leave the courtroom.
“Be that as it may, Section 14 of the Official Secret Act, 1923 permits exclusion of the public from the proceedings, however, the reading of the section shows that if such is to be undertaken, the prosecution has to make an application,” it added.
The court mentioned that the prosecution may move an appropriate application if it is interested in the public’s exclusion from the proceedings.
The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 — brandished a letter, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which mentioned that his government should be removed from power.
He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor mention the name of the nation that had sent it. But a few days later, he named the United States and said that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal.
The cipher was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed’s meeting with Lu.
The former prime minister, claiming that he was reading contents from the cipher, said that “all will be forgiven for Pakistan if Imran Khan is removed from power”.
Then on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the country for its “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.
Later, after his removal, then-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a meeting of the NSC, which came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher.
In the two audio leaks that took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these events, the former prime minister, then-federal minister Asad Umar, and then-principle secretary Azam could allegedly be heard discussing the US cipher and how to use it in their interest.
On September 30, the federal cabinet took notice of the matter and constituted a committee to probe the contents of the audio leaks.
In October, the cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former prime minister and handed over the case to the FIA.
Once FIA was given the task to probe the matter, it summoned Khan, Umar, and other leaders of the party, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and secured a stay order from the court.
The Lahore High Court (LHC), in July this year, recalled the stay order against the call-up notice to Khan by the FIA.
More to follow…