ISLAMABAD: A special court newly formed to hear cases related to the Official Secrets Act, 1923 has remanded PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for four more days—till August 25.
Qureshi, who was arrested from his residence in Islamabad on August 19 for his role in the alleged leak of a diplomatic cypher, was presented in Islamabad’s Anti-Terrorism Court-1 (ATC-1) amid heightened security on Monday.
At the in-camera hearing which the media were not allowed to cover, the FIA requested Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain to remand the PTI leader in its custody for 13 days.
The FIA officials told the court that they needed to interrogate Qureshi for recovering documents related to the cypher.
The counsel for the PTI leader, Shoaib Shaheen, opposed the request. After hearing arguments of both parties, the court reserved its order. Later it remanded Qureshi in custody for 4 days, ordering the FIA to present him in the court on August 25.
Currently, the FIA is also interrogating incarcerated PTI chief and former premier Imran Khan in the case pertaining to the diplomatic cypher which reportedly went missing from Imran’s custody and which he had for long presented as evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to remove him as the prime minister.
On August 5, Imran was arrested and sent to Attock jail after being declared guilty in the gift repository—Toshakhana—case. Though the cypher issue did not entirely fade out, it resurfaced after a US publication recently published its contents.
On March 27, 2022, ahead of a vote of no-confidence that resulted in his ouster, former premier Imran had pulled out a piece of paper – allegedly the cypher – from his pocket and waved it at a public gathering in Islamabad, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government.
Qureshi, who served as the country’s foreign minister during the PTI’s rule, was arrested on August 19 minutes after he unequivocally conveyed in a news conference that party’s founding chairman Imran Khan was irreplaceable and that the party was united under his vision.
The FIA arrested Qureshi under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The arrest also came on the heels of the party stalwart confirming that the PTI leaders met roughly seven diplomats of different countries at a breakfast at the Australian High Commission the other day where Imran’s imprisonment, cypher controversy and other political issues were discussed.
Special court formed
It transpired on Monday that ATC-I Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain will hear all cases registered anywhere in the country under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
These trials will be held in-camera.
The Ministry of Law and Justice on June 27 appointed Judge Zulqarnain as the ATC-1 Judge. In view of the ministry’s notification, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on July 3 directed the judge to join his new assignment till December 8, 2025.
According to the IHC notification, Judge Zulqarnain will also try the cases reported under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 “until further orders.”