A special Pakistani court has postponed the hearing of post-arrest bail applications of former prime minister Imran Khan and his close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a case related to the alleged disclosure of state secrets till the Islamabad High Court decides a plea challenging the court's jurisdiction.
The purported cipher (secret diplomatic cable) contained an account of a meeting between US State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan last year.
Of late, Khan has come under increased scrutiny following the publication of a purported copy of the secret cable by the US media outlet The Intercept, with many in the previous government led by Shehbaz Sharif pointing fingers at the PTI chief for being the source of the leak.
Qureshi, 67-year-old former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party's Vice Chairman was arrested on August 19 under the Official Secrets Act for violating the secrecy of the official cable sent by the Pakistani embassy in the US to the foreign office when he was the foreign minister.
A special court here has postponed the hearing of post-arrest bail applications submitted by Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan and his close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the diplomatic cipher case till the IHC decides a plea challenging the court's jurisdiction, the Express Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) will address petitions on Monday filed by 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Khan against the rejection of his pre-arrest bail applications in seven different cases.
Khan, who served as the country's prime minister until April last year, currently faces around 180 cases. These cases primarily stem from incidents that occurred following the sacking of the Lahore corps commander's house on May 9.
In these petitions, presented by Barrister Salman Safdar, Khan has also named the Attock jail superintendent as a respondent.
He argues that his bail applications were dismissed due to his non-appearance in court after being convicted in the Toshakhana case on August 5. The cricketer-turned-politician seeks a fair consideration of his bail applications on their merits.
During an in-camera hearing, Judge Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain of the Islamabad ATC-1, who was recently appointed as a judge of a special court handling cases under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, was informed by the prosecution that Khan had challenged both the special court's jurisdiction and his jail trial in the IHC.
The court advised PTI lawyers to await the IHC's decision and consider bail matters thereafter. It further recommended withdrawing the bail applications and re-filing them after the IHC's ruling. A hearing on both defendants' bail requests is scheduled for Monday.
Additionally, an ATC in Lahore has directed authorities to include Khan's sisters, Aleema Khan and Uzma Khan, in an investigation into four different cases filed against them following incidents on May 9.
Aleema and Uzma appeared in the ATC of Judge Abher Gul after their interim bail expired. They had been requesting inclusion in the investigation for three months, and the judge ordered the investigating officers to do so promptly, expressing a desire to conclude the case and receive the investigation report.