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Ex-FM Qureshi urges court to summon President Alvi in cipher trial

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Ex-FM Qureshi urges court to summon President Alvi in cipher trial

Adiala Jail: Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday urged the special court conducting the cipher trial to summon President Dr Arif Alvi so he could testify before the court whether he had assented to changes in the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

Key Highlights

  • The cipher trial proceedings against former prime minister Imran Khan and his aide Qureshi resumed at the Adiala jail today as jail authorities prevented most media workers from attending the “open court” hearing.
  • In August, President Alvi denied approving changes to the Secrets Act — under which the cipher trial is being held — and the Pakistan Army Act while the law ministry had rebuked his statement and asked him to “take responsibility for his own actions”.
  • The case pertains to a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges was never returned by Imran. The PTI has long held that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister.
  • The former premier and Qureshi, who is also behind bars, were indicted in the case on Oct 23. Both have pleaded not guilty.
  • The trial was being held at Adiala Jail and four witnesses had already recorded their statements, with the fifth being cross-examined when an Islamabad High Court division bench had termed the government’s notification for jail trial “erroneous” and scrapped the entire proceedings.
  • As a result of the judgement, the special court was to start a fresh trial now.
  • Earlier this week, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain had ruled that the trial proceedings would continue at the Adiala jail but in an open court.

Cipher Trial Proceedings

  • The trial resumed today at the Adiala jail in an open court.
  • Qureshi urged the court to summon President Alvi to testify whether he had assented to changes in the Official Secrets Act.
  • The judge assured Qureshi that his objection had been solved as “media and public are present”.
  • The judge also noted that both PTI leaders’ trials could not be held separately as the case was “interlinked”.
  • The judge told Qureshi, “No section of the law amended by Arif Alvi will apply to you. Your trial will be held according to sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act. We will conduct the proceedings on merit.”

Media Access Denied

  • Jail authorities prevented most media workers from entering the jail, with a huge number of local and international journalists outside the jail when the hearing began.
  • At around 10:15am, only two media workers were allowed to enter the jail but it remains unclear if they were able to attend the hearing.
  • Adil Saeed Abbasi, a reporter for PNN News, told that his team arrived at the jail at around 8am but it had been more than two hours and they were not allowed to enter the premises.
  • Most media workers and citizens remained unable to attend the hearing. After the hearing ended, it came to light that three reporters from different TV channels were allowed to witness the proceedings.

Next Hearing

  • The next hearing in the case will be held on Monday, December 4.

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