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State attorneys in cipher case under IHC scrutiny

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has sought credentials of the state counsels appointed for former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the diplomatic cypher case, as per a trial court order.

The court has expressed surprise about why the trial court did not provide private counsel to the PTI leaders, who were sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 30, just over one week before the February 8 general elections.

On Wednesday, a division bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb resumed hearing the appeals filed by Imran and Qureshi against the trial court’s order.

Continuing his arguments, PTI’s lawyer, Salman Safdar, stated that just 11 days after the trial began, the Special Court judge, Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain, accused the PTI lawyers of employing delaying tactics and directed the prosecution of appointing state counsels to represent the accused.

He mentioned that the trial commenced on January 15, and by January 26, the trial court requested state counsel for the accused. He added that the testimonies of all four witnesses had been cross-examined by January 24, and within six days, the cross-examination of all witnesses had been completed.

Safdar pointed out that the PTI leaders’ lawyers did not appear in court only once, and on the same day, the trial court judge passed three orders after brief intervals.

“The judge wrote an email stating that government lawyers should be appointed for the accused. When we returned the next day, the most critical witness, Azam Khan, was coming out of the courtroom.

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