Cipher case hearing: Prosecution wants to produce Donald Lu’s statement as evidence, IHC told

Barrister Salman Safdar and both government lawyers appointed by trial court and AG appeared before court

By Asim Javed
May 23, 2024
A general view of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) building. — Geo News/File

ISLAMABAD: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court has adjourned the hearing of appeals against the convictions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan and former vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case till today.The court directed the two government lawyers appointed in the cipher case to submit their affidavits and asked prosecutor Zulfiqar Ali Naqvi to ask prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah to appear, observing that if he cannot come, then (Naqvi) he will argue the case. The division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeals.


Barrister Salman Safdar, the lawyer of the PTI founder Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, both government lawyers appointed by the trial court and the advocate general appeared before the court.

Federal Investigation Agency’s prosecutor Zulfiqar Ali Naqvi told the court that Special Prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah could not come due to his mother’s ill health. The chief justice asked Naqvi whether he had filed any miscellaneous application on Wednesday. The prosecutor said he had filed a request to submit additional documents. Barrister Salman Safdar said that today prosecutor Shah could not come, and on Tuesday he had almost completed his arguments. The chief justice prayed that Hamid Ali Shah’s mother may get well soon and inquired the prosecutor whether he wanted to say anything on this request. The prosecutor said the prosecution had to submit the transcript of the statement.

The CJ inquired what the transcript was as the court had to see the relevance of the additional evidence to the appeal. The court asked how they could know whether the additional evidence was necessary or not, as the appeals were now in the final stage, and on Tuesday the prosecutor had said that he would complete his arguments on Wednesday and now an application was being filed. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb inquired the prosecutor whether he wanted to keep these appeals pending for two or three months. Zulfiqar Naqvi said that this application and the main appeal should be kept for Monday or Tuesday.

Barrister Salman Safdar said he would not accept this adjournment. Zulfiqar Naqvi said that if Hamid Ali Shah does not come to the next hearing, then he will give arguments.

The CJ asked the prosecutor to inform Hamid Ali Shah to come on Wednesday; otherwise, he (Naqvi) should give arguments. Naqvi sought two days’ time.

Justice Aurangzeb inquired whether he (the prosecutor) wanted to produce Donald Lu before the court. The prosecutor said Donald Lu’s statement before the committee in the United States is what we want to bring as evidence.

The court observed that in criminal law, first you have to tell whether that testimony is relevant or not. It said the advocate general was asked to appear with two government lawyers and tell when the appointment of government lawyers was made. The advocate general said that on January 26, 2024, two public lawyers were appointed on the request of the court.

The court inquired that since when the two government lawyers had been participating in the hearing.

The advocate general said that on January 27, 2024, both the government lawyers appeared before the court for the first time. The court asked the government lawyers what they did when they appeared before the court.

Public Prosecutor Malik Abdul Rahman said that on January 27, we cross-examined the witnesses on the request of the court while on January 26 we received the file of the case.

Chief Justice Aamir Farooq inquired whether the government lawyer had taken any time for cross-examination. Government lawyer Malik Abdul Rehman said that we got the file and then we cross-examined it. The CJ inquired what the meaning of getting the entire file was and what was in it.

Justice Aurangzeb observed that the government counsel were appearing before the court for the first time on January 27, and in the context of this case, at least two weeks’ time should have been requested.

The court observed as soon as the government counsel appeared for the first time, they started the cross-examination, and the basic question is that you should tell the judge that we need some time, and when they would get the files of this case.

The public prosecutor said that he received the file related to the case on January 26. Justice Aurangzeb inquired the advocate general as where he got the file from. The advocate general said that there was a jail trial and the file was sent to him by the jail authority.

Justice Aurangzeb observed that there was no court decision on sending the case file to the AG as it was not written anywhere in the order that the cipher case files were given to the AG. The AG was asked in what capacity had already been present in the court.

Public prosecutor Abdul Rahman said that he was present that day and was not present before.

The other government counsel Hazrat Younus submitted that he felt he should obtain some time from the court but he had been waiting since morning; therefore, he did not request that more time be given.

The AG said that on January 26, between 2 and 3pm he gave the record to the government counsel. The court inquired the public prosecutor for how long they met the PTI founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Public advocate Abdul Rahman said they met but did not talk much about the questions, and they could not meet the PTI founder for a long time but they met them for a few times.

The CJ inquired whether they had ever been there before. Justice Aurangzeb inquired that if they had not gone earlier, why it was written that they were in all the court proceedings. The court inquired the government counsel when they were appointed public prosecutors, and if they were ready for cross-examination.

The CJ inquired if they had prepared as much as possible in one night. Barrister Salman Safdar pointed to the government lawyers on this occasion and said that we have no problem with them. He gave Wednesday’s example that the arguments were to be completed but the prosecutor did not come.

The CJ asked the government lawyers whether they both had any consultation with the accused.

Public Prosecutor Malik Abdul Rehman said that on the court order they were allowed to consult the accused, and the PTI founder took about two minutes with him.

Justice Aurangzeb inquired if they prepared in one night, how much time they spent preparing with their client. The public prosecutor said that the PTI founder did not consult with them and refused to engage them.

Justice Aurangzeb asked public advocate Hazrat Yunus for how long he consulted with his client. The advocate said that he tried to consult Shah Mehmood Qureshi but he did not agree.

The court inquired whether they can give an affidavit with regard to refusal of the PTI founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi to represent them.

The court directed the two public lawyers appointed in the cipher case to submit their affidavits and asked prosecutor Zulfikar Naqvi to ask prosecutor Hamid Shah to appear and if he cannot come then he will conclude the arguments. The court adjourned the hearing till Thursday.